Fifth seed Westminster Owls couldn't make it two in a row against fourth seed Quince Orchard, falling to the host Cougars, 60-40, in an opening-round Class 4A, Region I contest last night in Montgomery County.
After scoring the game's opening basket, the Owls had to play catch-up all night long and couldn't overcome the strong inside playof Cougars forwards Tony Mensah (game-high 20 points) and Jamail Pritchett (15).
The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for the Owls -- including a 57-55 overtime win at home against the Cougars Saturday to clinch the fifth spot -- and finished their season at 14-9.
Quince Orchard (16-7) advances to the region semifinals where it will face top seed Montgomery Blair (18-2) tomorrow.
Back-to-back three-pointers in the closing seconds of the first half proved to be the turning point as the Cougars took a 33-20 at halftime.
Despite shooting poorly in the half, the Owls appeared to be in pretty good shape,trailing just 27-20 until Antoine Neal hit a three with 12 seconds left and Pritchett stole the inbounds pass and scored another three
at the buzzer.
"The two threes late in the second quarter really hurt," said Westminster coach Dave Byers. "We made the early run in the third to cut it to eight, but it could have been a two-point game without them. We just didn't shoot the ball well and they played a real tough zone. You have to give them a lot of credit."
The Owls made a small run in the third quarter as senior Todd Dorsey hit a three in the opening possession and followed it with a lay-up to cut the Cougars' lead to eight.
The Owls had two more opportunities to further cut into the Cougars' lead but couldn't.
By the time Owls senior Brad Gibson hit a three with just over three minutes left in the quarter, the Cougars had got their lead back to 14.
"That was a very critical point, where we got it under 10 and had some chances, but came up empty," said Byers.
Quince Orchard took a 42-32 lead into the fourth quarter and the Owls never threatened. Mensah hit eight straight free throws late in the quarter to ice the win.
"We can't look at this game as the entire season," Byers said. "Our kids showed a lot of character and heart to get us here and made the opportunity on their own."