Westminster too much for Watkins Mill, 68-55


There was nothing flashy about No. 12 Westminster's 68-55 win last night over visiting Watkins Mill in the Class 4A West Region opener, just a matter of the Owls making the most of their resources.

Two of their biggest assets all season have been the inside play of Beth Lister and Jill Ibex and things didn't change last night.

The sixth-seeded Wolverines simply didn't have anyone to match up against either of the two.

And as the night wore on, the Wolverines wore down with Lister (20 points) and Ibex (18 points) following misses for easy baskets, getting to the foul line and controlling the boards defensively.

The third-seeded Owls (19-4) will travel to second-seeded Sherwood tomorrow in the region semifinals.

"Their height was the big difference in the game," said Watkins Mill coach Peter Baron. "It was definitely the key."

Baron brought a very loose team to Westminster and it was apparent early on who the pressure was on.

The Owls came out hurrying their shots and not getting set defensively and the Wolverines took advantage by jumping out to a 11-4 lead after Mitra Pitts (28 points) stole a Lister outlet pass under the Wolverines' basket and laid it in with 3:45 left in the first quarter.

The Owls answered with an 11-0 run to close out the quarter and take a 19-13 lead.

A Lister follow with 1:20 left got them within 13-12 and then Ibex stole two straight inbounds passes and converted them into easy baskets to give the Owls a 16-13 lead.

Westminster coach Bernie Koontz inserted Alyson Young into the lineup for the Owls' last possession of the quarter and she came through with a three-pointer with seven seconds left to give them a six-point lead. They never trailed again.

"They came out ready to play and played a pretty good game the whole way though. We were a little flat at the start, but pulled it back getting some turnovers and making good decisions," said Koontz.

"I was talking to their coach before the game and he said 'You're the ones with the pressure, we're just here to make it a good ball game.' "

That's pretty much how things panned out with the Owls building a 10-point lead by late in the second quarter.

Lister converted on a three-point play early in the second quarter and got to the free-throw line six more times before the half -- hitting on all of them.

"Jill and Beth are both quality athletes who are in good shape. They do a good job of wearing opponents down," Koontz said.

Pitts, a junior guard, took over a short stretch of the fourth quarter,

scoring 11 points to get the Wolverines within 56-50 with 3:15 left, but the Owls came back with an Ibex follow and a steal and lay-in from Lauren Kadlubowski (13 points) to restore order.

Westminster will get another crack against Sherwood, which eliminated the Owls with a 71-51 win last year in the region semifinals.

The Owls avenged the loss with a convincing 65-37 win in their season-opener on Dec. 6.

Sherwood was without standout forward Meredith Pine and Koontz knows it will be a much tougher challenge this time.

"We're going to have to execute a little better than we did tonight and come in more focused," he said. "It should be a good game that comes down to the end."

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