Fallston’s team huddle before the start of each quarter ended the same way: by passing around a ripped-up piece of paper.
Cougars coach Johnny Woods printed out a picture courtesy of The Baltimore Sun from the last meeting between his team and region top-seed North Harford. The Hawks beat the Cougars by 20 in the same gym on Dec. 8. The de facto bulletin board material pushed Fallston to a convincing 39-23 road win in their Class 2A East Region I semifinal regional.
“[Woods] was like, ‘Let’s not let what happened last time happen again,’” junior center Ayla Galloway said. “We all took a piece of the paper and ripped it. We said, ‘We’re not doing this again. This is our time.’”
Galloway played a prominent role in not letting it happen again. With 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter, she subbed out, peach-faced with hands on her knees — her only break until the final minute with the game in hand.
Fallston’s leading scorer had all 10 of her team’s first-quarter points and finished with 21, including hitting 7 of 8 foul shots in 30 minutes of play. Galloway herself was tied with North Harford at the break, the Cougars then clinging to an 18-12 lead.
“We came in here with so much energy,” Galloway said. “We were hit in the heart from that [last loss]. ... We needed to come in here and hit them in the heart. Coming in I knew they were going to guard me, but in the middle there was some space and I just took it.”
“I’m not going to celebrate that performance for her because that’s what I expect,” Woods said. “She is that kid. She brings it on both ends of the floor. She’s a coach’s dream.”
North Harford had opened the game prepared for an old-school interior battle between forwards Galloway and the Hawks’ Caroline Nicholson, who scored her team’s first four points. Nicholson, however, got saddled with early foul trouble, reaching three in the first quarter.
With Nicholson on the bench, the middle of the floor for Galloway and subsequently led to a stagnant North Harford offense after having run predominantly through the junior to start.
“This was a tough game,” Woods said. “[Last time we played, we learned] that they were good. They’re a good team, very disciplined. Jenna [Amrhein] really disrupts a game. We really worked on trying to move the ball and get to the bucket.”
Amrhein was held to two points in the loss. Nicholson led the Hawks in scoring with six points, followed by five from Marissa Struhar.
Monday night’s game mirrored similar circumstances from last season’s regional semifinal. History repeated itself with Fallston again knocking off the Hawks, now with a chance for a regional championship on Wednesday against Harford Tech.