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Baltimore County Sports

Catonsville girls ride dominant defense and crisp passing to playoff win over Perry Hall

Catonsville’s girls basketball team has been to the state championship game the past two years — winning it all in 2017 and losing in 2018.

This year’s Comets (17-6) embarked on their 2019 playoff journey with a 70-41 victory over visiting Perry Hall in the first round of the Class 4A North Region playoffs.

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Catonsville will play at Howard at 7 p.m on Tuesday, March 5 in the second round.

Their complete game effort was something Catonsville coach Mike Mohler hasn’t seen in a while.

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“I told all the kids, that’s the best game we’ve had since December,” said Mohler who currently has 519 career wins.

Seniors Gabby Douglas and Aysia Ferguson, the only two returning starters back from last year’s finalists, were ready for prime time.

Douglas poured in 16 points, to go along with six steals, six assists and three rebounds.

Ferguson had 15 points, four assists and three steals.

Junior Sophi Wrisk added 13 points and four steals, while Larrie Sydnor (seven points, five rebounds) and Princess Lawson (four points, eight rebounds) had strong inside games.

Kara Dietrich led the Gators (10-10) with 15 points.

The pressing Comets’ defense forced 13 Perry Hall turnovers in the first quarter and 10 of Catonsville’s 11 field goals were layups.

Douglas canned a 3-pointer and Lawson sunk two free throws for the other points.

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“We definitely knew we had to come out strong, lose and you go home and we definitely want to see how far we can go, so we just were focused and ready to play,” Douglas said. “We just had really good ball movement and we were trying to play as a team and help our teammates get better shots, so I think it just came down to team play.”

Catonsville built a 10-point lead in the opening stanza, but Perry Hall rallied on a pair of three-pointers by Mary Tolentino, five points from Dietrich and four points from Brenna Ellenberger and trailed 25-20 at the break.

A three-pointer by Dietrich cut the deficit to two 15 seconds into the second quarter.

After Ferguson’s layup with 6:59 left made it 27-23, Chelsea Masseaux answered with a layup and it was 27-25.

That’s when the Comets ventured on a 23-4 run to close the quarter.

Sydnor had five points and Douglas had two three-pointers and a buzzer-beater, giving the Comets a 50-29 halftime lead.

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“I knew there was barely any time left, I didn’t know how many seconds were left, but I said, oop, gotta go,” Douglas said.

“When you score 50 in the first half, that’s the pace we wanted and we said, push it, push it, push it,” Mohler said. “We got out and then they made a little run back and cut it to 25-23 and I wasn’t upset because it was the pace we wanted. We had one helluva second quarter.”

Perry Hall coach Linda Cacccavalla credited the Comets for the defense that forced 19 first-half turnovers.

“Catonsville creates the turnovers,” said Caccavalla, who was proud of the way her squad rallied from the early deficit. “We never give up.”

Neither did the Comets with their relentless pressure.

Going back to a man-to-man after going zone because of foul trouble to Rianna Saunders, the Comets held the Gators to 12 points in the second half and only four in the fourth quarter.

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“We thought we could pressure them,” Mohler said.

Perry Hall finished with 30 turnovers.

“Coach Mike tries to hold teams to 30 points a game and although that didn’t happen, defense is our main priority and our defense typically wins games as long as we are hitting some shots,” said Douglas, who made 3 of 4 pointers in the contest.”

Scoring

Catonsville 70

Gaby Douglas 16, Aysia Ferguson 15, Sophi Wrisk 13, Larrie Sydnor 7, Maddi McLean 6, Ashley Dickey 5, Princess Lawson 4, Rianna Saunders 2, Amber McDevitt 2.

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Perry Hall 41

Kara Dietrich 15, Lily Hines 7, Mary Tolentino 6, Brenna Ellenberger 6, Chelsea Masseaux 5, Casey Bender 2.

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