Nobody told St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson it would be this easy.
The Saints went onto the floor against Southern of Anne Arundel yesterday expecting a struggle befitting Nos. 6 and 8 teams.
What the sixth-ranked Saints got was an 81-37 blowout that raised their record to 3-2 and sent their confidence soaring.
Is St. Mary's this good?
"I hope so," Dobson said, smiling. "We have the capability of playing this well all the time, if we can just get the kids to come out with their heads in the game."
Dobson wanted to make it clear that "Southern is a good team" and that the rout was triggered in part by 16 unanswered points in the second quarter that propelled St. Mary's into 43-14 command.
"We couldn't miss in the first half," Dobson said.
It was during St. Mary's 16-point run that Southern coach Linda Kilpatrick elected to play the game under protest because referee Al Behrendt assessed her a technical foul.
The technical presumably was for unsportsmanlike conduct, complaining too loudly about calls, or leaving the coach's box. Kilpatrick wasn't sure because Behrendt wouldn't tell her. After the game, he also refused to explain his decision.
"There is no box marked on the floor by the visitors' bench, so how can you tell if a coach is out?" Kilpatrick said. "I protested because I think there was a misinterpretation of the rules."
Kilpatrick was critical of the officiating, especially in the first half.
"We missed a lot of easy opportunities, true, and you can't get 10 points behind a team like St. Mary's because it's so hard to play catch-up," Kilpatrick said. "But the kids need to know they have a chance, and not playing against seven men. At halftime it was tough to explain to them why we had 13 fouls called on us to their two."
Before the game, Kilpatrick said she wasn't sure what to think of her team because it had breezed to two opening victories over out-of-county teams. "This is our first real test," she said.
The Bulldogs (2-1) did not grade well as they lost to the Saints for the fifth consecutive time. St. Mary's dominated from start to finish, leading 52-20 at halftime and 75-27 after three quarters. Subs on both teams played the entire fourth quarter.
"This gives us confidence and momentum," Dobson said, noting that after today's game against Mount de Sales the Saints will encounter stiff resistance from Annapolis and Bowie.
The statistics sheet glowed with St. Mary's highlights. The Saints had 18 steals. Kris Miller had 22 points, Annetta Davis 21 and Tara Foran 15. Erin Hon sank three three-pointers. Bridget Smith had 15 assists. Davis had 11 rebounds, Foran 10.
Dobson said before the game that his team was "up and down." Yesterday it was clearly up.