Four girls basketball teams are still alive after Tuesday’s latest round of regional play. C. Milton Wright and Aberdeen won in Class 3A, Section II, while Fallston won in 2A East, Section I play. Joppatowne was a winner in 1A East, Section I play.
At Fallston, the Cougars (8-12) caused North Harford (9-13) turnover troubles from the start and eventually won, 51-44.
“It was very nerve-racking being my first playoff game,” a relieved Fallston coach Rene Badger said. “I think we came out really strong, we had some shots that just weren’t going in and we weren’t taking like the best shots, but we seemed to start out strong.”
Despite the turnovers, North Harford made the game interesting to the end.
With 3:43 to play in the third quarter, Fallston had opened up an 29-17 lead and it looked like North Harford was done. Not so fast.
Junior Jess Smith sank a pair of three-point shots and Ava Schmidt added her lone basket to pull the Hawks to within four, 29-25.
The Cougars pushed the lead back to nine, 34-25, but Smith tossed in a long three-pointer at the buzzer to trim the deficit to six, 34-28. “I’ve hit one before, but that’s a playoff game. It’s kind of exciting, it kind of got my team pumped up more,” Smith said. Smith’s 13 points led the Hawks scoring.
The momentum was quickly squelched by the Cougars, who pushed the lead to 10, 39-29, over the first two minutes of the final quarter. Angelica Qunitero, who scored 11 of her game-high 20 points in the second half, scored four of the five. “Our press made a lot of turnovers, which led to easy points,” Quintero said.
The lead went to 41-29, the largest of the night, but North Harford didn’t go away.
The Cougars lead was 44-36 when Hawks guard Alison Bufano was fouled on a made three-pointer. Bufano added the free throw to bring the Hawks back to within four, 44-40, but with just 51.4 left on the clock.
Bufano (10 points) added another three-pointer to make it 47-43, but the Cougars made enough free throws over the final 30 seconds to secure the win. Autumn Susa also scored 10 for the Hawks.
Fallston’s Rebekah Taylor made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch and finished with 12 points.
Next to the turnovers, free throws were also a problem for the Hawks. They went 7-for-19, while Fallston was 18-for-27.
“We talk about moving to the ball, making good passes, moving to the ball and we had to execute it and there were times we just didn’t,” Hawks coach Wendy Feight said. “We’ve worked on foul shots a lot and some the girls that were on the line are usually clutch foul shooters and think maybe it was a little bit of nerves tonight, too, knowing what was on the line.”
Despite the turnovers, especially early, the Hawks had a 10-6 lead. Fallston had three shots go in the hoop and back out. “Our shots weren’t falling in the beginning, but then we were able to get steals off the press and then easy layups,” Quintero said.