It took top seed Milford Mill four tough quarters to shake fifth seed and heavy underdog Francis Scott Key, 61-46, in a Class 1A, Region II semifinal game last night.
The much bigger and slightly quicker Millers kept opening up a gap between the Eagles only to see the latter climb back.
But in the end, the strong inside play of Milford Mill senior forwards Yolanda Matthews and Ebony Richardson proved too much for the pesky Eagles (11-11), as the No. 19 Millers (18-4) advanced to the region finals.
Milford Mill will next take on the winner of the Catoctin/Wilde Lake game, which was postponed until today by inclement weather.
Matthews, who became Baltimore County's all-time career scoring leader earlier this season, led the way with 26 points, and Richardson chipped in 14.
Both dominated the inside at both ends to offset another stellar effort from Key senior guards Erin Murphey and Shelley Smith.
"We knew we'd match up well at guard with Erin and Shelley, but their inside game was our concern and turned out to be the difference," said Key coach Brian Hollingsworth.
Milford Mill got out of the gates quickly in the first quarter and looked like it was going to have an easy time.
But Murphey, Carroll County's leading scorer this season with a 16.7 average, brought the Eagles back late in the quarter with six straight points to cut the Millers' lead to 15-12. She would finish the night with a team-high 18 points and finished her high school career as Key's all-time leading scorer.
Key was within 22-18 after Smith hit a jumper with 4:30 left in the second quarter. But Milford Mill went on an 8-2 run the rest of the way to take an eight-point halftime lead at 30-22.
Murphey opened up the second half with a rebound basket of her own miss to cut the lead to six, but the Millers opened up their first double-digit lead of the game at the 3:04 mark.
The Millers opened the fourth with an 8-2 run and never looked back .
Still, Hollingsworth was happy after an 11-win season -- three more than Key's two previous seasons combined.
"It was the most enjoyable season I've ever enjoyed as a player or coach," said Hollingsworth. "This was a great group."