Bel Air coach Phyllis Hemmes stressed all season that she didn't have a group of basketball players. Her team was a conglomeration of athletes who excelled at other sports.
But that didn't stop the Bobcats from making a run at the regional title. Last Saturday, Bel Air rallied late but dropped its Class 3A regional championship game to Catonsville, 49-44.
North Harford and Joppatowne suffered the same fate. North Harford lost to Parkside, 79-46, in its Class 2A region, while the Marinersfell in overtime to Kent, 53-48, in Class 1A.
Bel Air ran into trouble against Catonsville's man-to-man pressure, turning the ball over 30 times. The Comets (21-3), however, didn't have much trouble withthe Bobcats' zone, because they always had five girls on the court who could shoot the ball.
"Catonsville had some nice shooters," said Hemmes. "You could see it in their eyes, but I don't have those kind of kids. I have hockey, soccer and volleyball players, but we got better (through the season), and we became a good team. When you startout 1-4 and end up 17-6, that says something about these kids."
The Bobcats wanted to get the ball to 6-0 center Dawn St. Clair
(10points), but they had a lot of trouble and turned the ball over forcing passes inside.
"They were quicker and they put pressure on ourguards," said the Bobcats' senior forward Heather Heitz. "We don't see that kind of quickness in the (Harford) county league."
In the first half, Bel Air took a 7-2 lead on Stephanie Reynolds' three-point play. But the Comets' full-court press helped them score 12 unanswered points.
Bel Air got within three several times in the second quarter. But the Comets' offense was as quick as their defense, and they ran the margin up to 10 several times.
Bel Air rallied late as sophomore guard Lisa Thomas (12 points) hit a three-pointer with 1 minute, 13 seconds left to pull within 45-41. The Bobcats never got closer.
North Harford, which shared the Harford County title with BelAir, had some problems of its own down in Salisbury, where the Hawksplayed an overwhelming Parkside squad (22-0).
The Hawks (20-3) were overmatched against quick 6-3 center Christa Camper.
"I knew that probably even on a really good day, we couldn't have beaten them,"said Hawks coach Lin James, who played everyone on her bench. "The things they do well, we don't. They are very fast and very quick."