Towson proved it takes an entire team effort, along with a lot of heart and hustle, to advance in the regional girls basketball tournament.
The hosts Generals (12-9) ousted Milford Mill (12-8), 43-32, in the Class 3A North Region Section I semifinals because all seven players contributed at different times.
Senior point guard Erin Steinberg (10 points, four steals, three assists, three rebounds), senior forward Bernadette Brezinski (six points, 11 rebounds, four assists) and junior guard Anna Lucas (five points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists) provided energy the entire game because they stayed out of foul trouble.
Brezinski, who is 5-feet, 6 inches, knew she had to be tough on the boards.
“Being one of the smallest people on the team, I had to box out and they kept calling over-the-back, so that was awesome,” she said.
Before senior Becca Grim picked up her fourth foul, 25 seconds into the second half, she scored 10 points, including a three-pointer in the first quarter to help stake the Generals to a 12-7 lead and she hit one early in the second, to help them extend the lead to 15-8.
Freshman Starlette Franklin had four points, three rebounds, one steal, one assist and a blocked shot in the first half, before her fourth foul limited her minutes in the second half.
That opened the stage for understudies Ava Marsiglia and senior Kendall Fragetta.
Marsiglia, a freshman called up mid-season from JV, scored all seven of her points and grabbed nine of her 10 rebounds in the second half.
“She is not always the first one off the bench, but tonight I knew she could be a threat from the outside and on the inside with her height, so that’s why I put her in there,” Towson coach Jen Hahn said.
Fragetta had a point and three rebounds, but her only blocked shot led to her pass to Steinberg for a fast-break
that gave the Generals a 26-20 lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter.
Milford eventually cut the deficit to two, 26-24, after a free throw and 3-pointer by senior Jayla Hargrave (team-high 15 points).
The Millers, who got strong inside play from freshman Storm Ugbong (11 points), had six field-goal attempts to either tie or take the lead in the final minute and all misfired and with 0.3 left in the quarter Marsiglia was fouled on a fastbreak and she canned both free throws for a 28-24 lead.
Towson coach Hahn knew the Millers would not quit after watching them dwindle a 22-11 second quarter lead to five points at halftime.
“I told them they needed to calm down. Going into halftime, the momentum was going Milford Mill’s way and I told them that we need to get the momentum back,” Hahn said. “We didn’t have the best third quarter, but in the fourth quarter I told them, ‘This is it, you are going to have to leave your heart out on the court, this is the semifinals and you need to play like it,’ and they did just that.”
Brezinski, who hadn’t scored in the first three quarters, got the message and canned a 3-pointer for a 31-24 lead with 6:51 remaining.
“In the beginning, it wasn’t going well, so I just had to keep shooting,” Brezinski said.
She also had a putback for a basket and assist to Marsiglia for a 3-pointer that bumped the lead to 39-27.
Milford Mill’s rally disintegrated because they missed 11 straight field goal attempts between the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth and by the time they broke the ice on a layup by Hargrave the game deficit was too much.
Although the Millers had shooting woes, Coach DeToiya McAliley appreciated the way her team rallied after trailing early.
“They were able to overcome a lot of adversity,” she said. “We have a mix of new and some people from last year, but they never gave up, so I appreciate that.”
Meanwhile, Towson’s Hunt, who coached the Generals JV last year, likes her team’s determination.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “They are the ones that make it a good time. I’ve never met a group of girls that gave more heart and more dedication to the sport and that’s all I can ask for.”
The Morning Sun
Erin Steinberg, 10, Becca Grim 10, Ava Marsiglia 7, Bernadette Brezinski 6, Anna Lucas 5, Starlette Franklin 4, Kendall Fragetta 1.
Milford Mill 32
Jayla Hargrave 15, Storm Ugbong 11, Daija Blake 4, Shantia Roscoe 1, Gia Edge 1.
Halftime Towson 22 Milford 17.