Who can blame the girls on Bel Air's basketball team if they just want to get this year over with and look to next year?

For the Bobcats, defending co-county champs and Class 3A regional runners-up last year, this season has been rough.

Their overall record dropped to 4-10 with Tuesday's 47-29 loss toFallston. Their league record dropped to 5-6. They are out of contention for postseason play.

"I don't like to say we're giving up, because we never give up in any of our games," said junior point guard Lisa Thomas. "But maybe we don't expect so much anymore. We already know we're not going to make regionals. Next year, we'll be more experienced and more enthusiastic."

The results of the 1991-1992 seasonwere not totally unexpected -- not after graduating four starters.

"The building years -- everybody has them," said Bel Air coach Phyllis Hemmes. "You've got to take the good with the bad. I've done it before. It's not like I'm going to run out and retire or anything."

Of three returnees with experience, only Thomas was a regular starter last year. Although she averaged only seven points a game, Thomas emerged as the team catalyst in the playoffs.

But this year, Thomas, who also averaged four assists last year, is facing a lot more pressure. Opponents worried about her more-experienced teammates last year, leaving Thomas relatively open. Now, opponents are out to stop Thomas.

"It's a lot harder now, because there's more pressure on me,"said Thomas. "A lot of times coaches double on me. I can see people open but there's no way I can get it to them. It kind of gets frustrating."

For Thomas, few games were as frustrating as Tuesday's lossto Fallston (14-5 overall, 10-2 league). She shot 0-of-17 from the field, scoring her only two points on free throws. It wasn't much better for the rest of the Bobcats.

Fallston ran away with the game inthe first quarter, outscoring Bel Air, 21-7. The Cougars ran all over Bel Air as the Bobcats turned the ball over seven times against a swarming 1-2-2 defense.

Fallston converted on 9-of-16 shots. Lori Heffley scored all seven of her points on 3-3 shooting. Pam Toth addedsix points.

"The 1-2-2 defense usually works the best for us," said Toth, who scored a game-high 13 points and had 11 rebounds. "But it didn't hurt that just about everything we were throwing up went in."

The Bobcats had even more trouble in the second quarter as Fallston outshot them 19-8. Amy Sullivan scored Bel Air's only two points of the quarter as the Bobcats continued to have trouble with Fallston's defense and turned over the ball 12 times.

However, the Cougars' torrid shooting spell came to an end as they hit only two shots, including Toth's three-pointer that beat the buzzer. The Cougars also scored on four free throws to take a 30-9 halftime lead.

Bel Air's best effort came in the fourth quarter when it outscored Fallston, 12-7. Maria Paggioli had all six of her points while Jen Emig added four of her team-high 11.

Despite their difficulties against Fallston, the Bobcats have had some strong efforts this season, including a Jan. 30 defeat of North Harford.

"We just clicked," said Emig.

Hemmes added, "We did everything right. We played smart, we moved the ball, we had our hands up on defense. And North Harford is as slow aswe are. You look at Fallston, they have a lot of speed. We just can't keep up with a team like that."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad