The Westminster Owls ran into a Montgomery Blair team that was fighting for a region playoff berth last night. The visiting Blazers showed it, coming away with a 44-33 win.
Sophomore forward Peppi Browne led the way with a solid all-around effort, finishing with 17 points, 16 rebounds, seven blocked shots and six steals.
The Blazers (10-7) led from start to finish and pulled away from the Owls with a strong third quarter -- outscoring the Owls 15-7 in the period to increase their five-point halftime lead.
"We just didn't show up tonight," said Westminster coach Bernie Koontz. "We knew they had a good team and were fighting for a playoff spot. They came here wanting the game and we didn't."
The Owls (11-5) came into the game tied for third with Richard Montgomery in the Class 4A West Region. The Blazers were fifth in the same region with six playoff spots available. The two teams will meet again Monday at Montgomery Blair.
The Blazers dominated defensively most of the way, but their poor shooting from the field and free-throw line (4-for-14) kept the Owls close in the first half.
The Blazers' came up with a number of blocked shots and steals to keep the Owls' offense frustrated throughout the half.
Browne was a big factor at both ends, anchoring the zone defense in the middle and coming up with 11 first-half points to help give the Blazers a 22-17 halftime lead.
Browne could have scored more, but couldn't finish on a number ofchances in close. After missing a number of layups, she tried it from the outside and hit a three-pointer with 28 seconds left and added a put-back in the closing seconds to give the Blazers their five-point halftime lead.
"We still had our chances in the second half, but never responded," Koontz said. "We just didn't play with any kind of emotion both offensively or defensively. I don't know what it was."
Westminster forward Beth Lister got into early foul trouble -- picking up two in the first 3:52 of the game -- and was held scoreless. She went into the game the county's leading scorer at 13.2 points per game.
After Westminster's Cassandra Conklin opened the second half with a jumper to cut the lead to 22-19, the Blazers scored 15 of the last 20 points in the quarter to take control. Browne started the run with a three-point play and Beverly Laryea hit a three-pointer with 48 seconds left.
The Blazers maintained the double-digit lead most of the final quarter until Julie Backof scored inside with 2:50 left to cut the lead to 39-31. That's the closest the Owls would get.
Guard Lauren Kadlubowski led the way for the Owls with 10 points. Forward Jill Ibex played well off the bench for Lister, scoring seven.