Sixth-seeded Glenelg knew that previous scores sometimes lie. Going into last night's Class 2A South Region semifinal, the Gladiators had lost to top-seeded Atholton (21-2) twice -- once by 17 points and once by 15.
But the Gladiators were certain they could defeat the 10th-ranked Raiders. And they did -- pulling off the biggest upset of the season in Howard County basketball.
Glenelg (14-10) will play second-seeded Oakland Mills, semifinal winners over Surrattsville, for the championship at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Oakland Mills.
The 62-58 victory at Atholton was achieved through a team effort.
Glenelg's bench, led by Tony Marchegiano and Ben Gugliotta, and point guard Jeff Cline helped the Gladiators climb back from a 17-4 first-quarter deficit to trail by only 27-26 at halftime.
Glenelg stepped up its defense in the second quarter to force Atholton into making just four of 14 shots.
Then Glenelg's top scorers, Damian Miles (17 points) and Earl Frazier (17 points) took control of the game in the second half. Miles scored 14 points that half, and Frazier added 11.
"We watched Atholton's tapes and saw that their defense breaks down from switching a lot. It allows penetration," Glenelg coach Klaude Krannebitter said. "So we tried to spread the floor and get it to Miles and Frazier who can penetrate."
Miles repeatedly attacked Atholton with drives and either scored or was fouled. During an 11-3 run that gave Glenelg its first lead at 37-35 with 3:14 left in the third quarter, Miles scored nine points -- seven of them on drives or inside moves. Cline scored the layup that put Glenelg ahead.
Then Frazier took over the scoring on a drive and a three-point shot, and center Dave Alexander sank a tap-in as Glenelg ended the third quarter leading, 44-43.
The last 5:54 of the game, after Cline and Atholton's Nat Watkins picked up their fourth fouls with the score tied 49-49, turned largely into a foul-shooting contest.
Neither team shot well at the line during that stretch, but Glenelg made seven free throws to five for Atholton. Glenelg missed the front end of four one-and-ones in the last 34 seconds. Atholton missed three one-and-ones in the fourth quarter.
Atholton led 56-55 on Damian Kapcala's drive with 2:43 left. But a drive by Frazier and three free throws by Miles turned the score to Glenelg's favor with 1:13 left, 60-56.
Atholton point guard Tyrone Allmond (19 points) drove to cut the lead to 60-58 with a minute to play, but he fouled out with 34 seconds left.
Glenelg then attempted to kill the clock and Atholton was forced to foul. Despite the four missed one-and-ones by Glenelg, Atholton failed to score again.
"Glenelg played a very good game, but we beat ourselves with too many missed layups and free throws," Atholton coach Jim Albert said.
Atholton's only other loss was by three points to Oakland Mills.