Severna Park coach Kevin McGrath doesn't even like to count that one defeat. It was in a Christmas tournament to a team from, appropriately for the season, Bethlehem, Pa.
What matters, in McGrath's opinion, is that Severna Park is undefeated in Maryland.
The No. 11 Falcons raised their record to 15-1 with a hard-earned 64-57 victory over visiting No. 17 Arundel last night.
"I didn't expect to be sitting 15-0 in the state at this point," McGrath said. "I'm not saying I'm surprised, considering the way we're playing, but it's not something I expected at the start of the season."
How are the Falcons playing? How is it that an unranked team in the preseason, labeled by McGrath as a "mixed mess," is marching through its state schedule unchecked?
"The team plays nice," McGrath said. "The girls listen, adjust and have good skills. They get along with each other and help each other. Example: If a girl is upset at losing her role, the girl who took that role consoles her and peps her up."
Sandy Jenkin scored 20 points, all in the second and third quarters, in pacing Severna Park. The Falcons were behind early at 7-2 and 18-8, but stormed back each time, tied it at 24 and led at halftime, 29-28.
Ginger Breneman extended Arundel's first-quarter lead from 9-8 to 18-8 with three successive three-pointers in the space of two minutes. The senior guard finished with a career-high six three-pointers and a game-high 21 points.
"Four three-pointers against Chesapeake and Meade were the most I ever had before," Breneman said. "I went to a shooting camp a couple of summers, and they taught us to shoot one-handed."
The score was tied for the last time, at 49, after the third quarter. The Falcons put the game away by outscoring Arundel in the final period, 15-8.
Neither team had played for almost two weeks, prompting McGrath and Arundel coach Lee Rogers to say before the game they didn't know what to expect.
"We need a good defensive stand," Rogers said. "I don't know what the offense will be like. If we play defense, hopefully the offense will come."
McGrath described the overall play in the game as "ragged," but lauded Arundel's shooting. Despite the loss, Arundel (13-4) has surpassed its preseason goal of a .500 record.
"We've changed our goal," Rogers said. "We want to improve our position -- third in the region now, with a chance to do better depending on what we do in our last five games."
What disturbed Rogers was that after Breneman clearly demonstrated she had a hot hand, her teammates seemed to forget she was on the court. She had her last three-pointer in the third quarter.
"We made a lot of mental mistakes, and one of them was not looking for Ginger," Rogers said. "We got out of sync and didn't make good decisions."
Severna Park won't have all its key players in the next two games, today against Meade and Friday against Old Mill. Megan Jones is taking a trip with her French class and will miss both games, and Jen Conner will miss Friday's while visiting colleges.
But the Falcons have won without a standout or two before. It's been that kind of season.