No. 14 Wilde Lake entered last night's Arundel Holiday Tournament semifinal against No. 17 Westminster of Carroll County having suffered a loss to the Owls' neighborhood rival, South Carroll.
A youthful Westminster squad (5-1) -- with just two seniors -- added insult to injury with last night's 49-34 win, led by senior Beth Lister (16 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks) and junior guard Cassandra Conklin (11 points, nine rebounds).
Jill Ibex (nine points) came off the bench for the Owls, scoring six of their nine fourth-period points. Senior Julie Backof had seven points with eight rebounds, and guard Lauren Kadlubowski had a team-high 12 rebounds and two points.
The Owls next play unranked Arundel (5-1), a 50-38 semifinal winner over Roosevelt (4-2) of Prince George's County, in tonight's 7:30 title game.
Arundel has won its own tournament three out of four times under fifth-year coach Lee Rogers.
Wilde Lake fell victim to the Owls' depth and trailed 25-16 at the half. Westminster coach Bernie Koontz used 10 of his 11 players before halftime -- seven of whom eventually scored.
"I'd seen some of their [Wildecats'] scores and we knew it would be a tough game, that they'd come out playing very hard," said Koontz. "We really didn't get going until the second quarter, so they very well could have been up on us in the beginning."
Westminster's victory came over a Wildecats' (3-2)squad which, led by center Adelle Chenier (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Marie Parker (nine points), suited up just seven players and was without four starters, who are on vacation.
Their absence, said Wildecats' coach Kelly Rosati, was "painful," especially as Westminster opened a nine-point advantage in the second quarter after leading only 11-9 following one period.
"I had to take people out who had three fouls. I couldn't have that going into the second quarter," said Rosati, whose Wildecats' defense turned an early 6-0 deficit into a 7-6 deficit midway through the first quarter.
"It might have been a lot closer if we'd had our normal players, but they're a good team that beat us by 20 points last year."
Wilde Lake's defensive effort seemed to drain its players entering the second period.
"We went to our bench to get them tired, having eight or nine kids who can play," Koontz said. "They [Wildecats] were playing pretty tough even though they were missing a player or two."
Lister had all six of her first-half points in the opening period, with Conklin getting seven of her nine first-half points in the second period and Wilde Lake's sinking a team-leading six points in the first half.
Lister's three-point play capped a 13-9 run with 2:47 left in the third period, forcing a Wilde Lake timeout with the score 38-25 Westminster. It was the Wildecats' largest deficit to that point.
The Wildecats played more evenly from there, being outscored 15-14, but trailing 40-30 entering the final period.