If the Old Mill girls basketball team's 46-35 win over Annapolis yesterday seemed even closer than the score indicated, it's only becauseof how easily the Patriots have handled their foes in recent weeks.

Just how easily?

Going into yesterday's game, the Patriots had won their previous four encounters by an average of 40 points. They were coming off consecutive 52-point victories, 69-17 over Chesapeake and 68-16 over GlenBurnie. Everyone except the scorekeeper was getting into the games early.

"Mainly, what we're working on in these games is boxing out and playing our girl tightly, denying the ball," said junior guard Christine Baer, who scored a game-high 14 points, including 12 in the first half. "I think we're doing real well."

To say the least. The win was Old Mill's 13th straight -- the 300th in school history -- and improved its record to 18-1 overall, 7-0 in the Friendship Division. Annapolis, which is without starting forward Shannon Henderson until next month because of grades, is 10-9 and 4-3.

Junior forward Stacy Himes added 12 points and junior guard Lee Ann Lezzer chipped in seven for Old Mill. Junior forwards Allison Wentworth and Anne Chicorelli had four points each and combined for 12 rebounds.

Senior Diedre Downs was the only Annapolis player in double figures, with 10 points. Kai Simms had eight points, Shalundra Hunt seven and Lisa Roberts five. Roberts also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, and Downs added 10.

Even with Old Mill streaking along, Coach Pat Chance recently decided to tinker with her starting line-up, inserting Lezzer and senior forward Cindy Davenport and having Chicorelli and sophomoreMichelle Salmon come off the bench.

"I did it four or five games ago," Chance said. "Cindy started for us last year, but she started off this year hurt, and then she was sick, and I didn't want to rush her back. I wanted to get more speed and quickness in the first part of the game, and she gives us some quickness on our press. And Lee Anngives us better outside shooting.

"It really wasn't anything special. I just wanted to try some different things."

So did Annapolis, which went with a different offense yesterday in hopes of cutting down Old Mill's fast break. But that strategy backfired, and by the second half, Annapolis had returned to the alignment -- a double low-post with two wings and one point guard -- that it's used all season.

The host Panthers took early leads of 2-0, 4-2 and 6-4, but Old Mill took everything else.

The Patriots' trapping defense forced 19 first-half turnovers en route to a 27-10 halftime lead. Annapolis finished with 33 turnovers, compared to 13 for Old Mill.

Annapolis didn't shoot that poorly in the first half, going 5-of-13 from the field. The Panthers simply didn't shoot enough.

"We were playing tentatively against their pressure," said Annapolis coach Teresa Ross. "We weren't dribbling the ball in close and looking downcourt, and they were able to steal it."

With all of their starters on the bench formost of the fourth quarter, the Patriots' lead shrank to 45-35 on anAleks Rhines three-pointer with 40 seconds remaining. Annapolis had come within 33-22 late in the third quarter, before Old Mill scored six straight points.

"In the second half, we did exactly what we wanted to do the whole game," Ross said. "We had to adjust to what theywere like, and once we realized they really weren't that much betterthan us, we could play with them."

A Himes jumper had tied the score, 6-6, and a Lezzer three-pointer gave Old Mill the lead for good,9-6.

A Debbie Dawson steal resulted in another Himes basket, and Himes came back with a steal and lay up to increase the lead to 13-6.Annapolis committed turnovers on its next two possessions, and Baer sank a three-pointer to close the quarter.

Roberts scored on a follow to open the second quarter, but Old Mill went on a 9-0 run for a commanding 25-8 lead.

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