At the 1:18 mark of the fourth quarter, North Carroll's four seniors took to the bench for the final time in their high school careers.
They were shocked. The scoreboard showed top-seeded and unbeaten Middletown with 65, the No. 9 North Carroll Panthers with 32.
All North Carroll coach Greg Knill could say was "Thank you" to Ashlee Douglas, Michele Jeffery, Francine Hewes and Kara Tedder as they watched the near flawless Middletown Knights (24-0) come away with a 68-33 win in the Class 2A, Region I finals last night at Middletown.
"They were on," said Knill. "It was like they were shooting into an ocean and we were shooting into a tiny little Dixie cup. I was pleased with the shots we were getting, but they just weren't falling."
North Carroll shot just 1-for-18 in the first quarter and Middletown was hitting from all over the floor from the start. The Knights jumped out to a 10-1 lead and never allowed North Carroll into the game.
"They know how to finish off teams; they just didn't allow us back into the game at any time," Knill said.
The Knights opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 27-7 lead with 4:11 left in the half. They shot 6-for-10 in the quarter to take a 31-15 lead into halftime. They left no doubt opening the third quarter by scoring the first six points.
They finished the night just under 50 percent from the field, shooting 26-for-54. North Carroll, on the other hand, managed only nine field goals the entire night.
"I'll tell you what, we scouted them five times this year and didn't expect anything like this," said Middletown coach Mark Miller. "We thought it would be a much closer game. That's the best we've played at both ends against a great team.
"They have the ability to come back, but we just didn't let them get back into the game."
Rachel Levine and Kara Reed led the way for the Knights with 22 and 17, respectively. Jeffery had 13 to lead the Panthers, who closed out their season at 18-6.
Tracey Kelley had 10 for Middletown.
After the game, Knill couldn't say enough about his four seniors.
"They've established a tradition and a way of life over the last four years. I'm going to miss the way they play, their competitiveness and their leadership."
He also was pleased with the entire team's accomplishments throughout the season.
"I'm really proud of all our players. They played hard throughout the year and there were a lot of teams sitting home tonight," he said.