The Westminster Owls spent the first half of Friday's girls basketball game against defending Carroll County champion South Carroll largely settling for shots.
They then spent the second half settling the score.
Facing a team they seldom had beaten in recent years, the host Owls broke a tie game by scoring eight straight points early in the third quarter, then held off the Cavaliers' late charge to preserve a 52-47 win.
Westminster (8-2, 4-1 county), which had made just eight of 31 shots in the first half, began the second half by hitting eight of its first 10, including several layups off well-designed plays.
"We knew they were undefeated in the county, and our girls were a little in awe of that," Westminster coach Mike Ninosky said. "At halftime we said, 'We've seen everything they have, and we have a three-point lead. Now it's time for us to start running plays and show that we belong on the court … that we can be county champs.'"
Junior guard Jonyae Curry led the charge with a game-high 24 points, playing a key role as the Owls thwarted a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by the Cavaliers (9-3, 6-1).
First, after Keriann McTavish (14 points) sank a 3-pointer from the corner to pull South Carroll within two with 4:11 left, Curry raced to the other end, grabbed an offensive rebound and completed a 3-point play. Moments later, with Westminster leading 46-44 after a 3-pointer by Nikki Levy (17 points), the junior answered again with a quick drive and jumper from 12 feet.
Following a first half with little offense and 11 turnovers, Curry said her team's commitment to slow its tempo and run plays after halftime was the difference.
"We knew we had to settle, because we had a lot of turnovers," Curry said. "They're a tough defense, so the only way to score was to run some plays."
Still, South Carroll had its chances late in the game.
Levy nailed a three to make it 50-47 with 39 seconds left, then stole the ball off an inbounds pass. With 20 seconds left, however, her 3-point attempt missed the mark, and Westminster grabbed the rebound.
Curry then sealed the win with a pair of foul shots at the other end.
The normally strong-shooting Cavaliers never heated up from the perimeter, making just five of their 24 three-point attempts.
"The difference was that we didn't shoot well tonight," South Carroll coach Liz Padgett said. "We've been shooting really well the past few games, and it's given us cushions to work with. Tonight, we just weren't shooting well. They beat us up and down the floor, and knocked down shots."
Westminster 52, South Carroll 47
South Carroll: Whittington 6, Berdit 2, McTavish 14, Levy 17, Baxter 4, Heim 4. Totals: 18 6-11 47.
Westminster: Cottom 4, Bachman 2, Curry 24, Phillips 5, S. Pumputis 4, Powers 4, A. Pumputis 9. Totals: 21 8-12 52.
Half: Westminster, 24-21.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun