North Carroll withstands Walter Johnson challenge Panthers win, 57-49, behind Tunney's 25 points


North Carroll senior Kathleen Tunney isn't ready for her high school basketball career to come to an end.

So in last night's Class 3A West region second-round game against visiting Walter Johnson, she did a lot of some things and a little bit of everything else.

Tunney and the young, improving Panthers jumped out to an early lead and then had to withstand a fourth-quarter rally from the Wildcats to come away with a 57-49 win in Hampstead.

The Panthers (9-15) will travel to Frederick, 70-50 winners over Liberty last night, tomorrow at 7 p.m. The Panthers split two regular-season games against Frederick this season.

Tunney got things started in a hurry, converting back-to-back three-point plays on the Panthers' first two possessions. By the end of the night, she finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and four assists. When the Wildcats (5-14) had some success with a trapping defense, it was Tunney who often brought the ball upcourt.

"I want this to last as long as I can, play as much basketball as I can," Tunney said. "We're a young team so I'm just doing my job. Score, play some defense and do a little rebounding. I just want the basketball."

Tunney, the only senior on the North Carroll roster, has been a consistent provider for the Panthers all season. Now, she is getting the support around her as the younger players gain experience. Sophomore forward Katie Torsella scored 11 points and sophomore guard Jen Geiman added eight -- including a layup after releasing on a long inbound play with 2:53 left in the game, giving the Panthers a 45-40 lead.

"I'm really proud of the kids. I've got to admit, we're overachieving right now. Who would have thought we would be in the sweet 16 of the region tournament," North Carroll coach Greg Knill said. "The nicest part of all this is we've come together and worked well and a lot of that has to do with the leadership of Kathleen Tunney. She's been consistent all year and now the other players are starting to step up around her."

The game was tied at 13 to start the second quarter when North Carroll went on an 8-0 run. Tunney hit three out of four free throws before Krista Summers made good on a three-point play and Torsella scored on a putback to give the Panthers the 21-13 lead.

They maintained the eight-point lead at the half and extended it in the third. When Tunney pulled up for a short jumper with 3:06 left, it gave the Panthers a 35-23 lead.

Walter Johnson's rally started shortly after and the Wildcats pulled even with 4:47 left in the fourth quarter when Courtney Wege hit a short jumper to tie the score at 38. The Panthers then went on a 9-2 run and closed it out from the free-throw line.

"We don't make it easy for us," Knill said. "We get the lead and our youth kind of strangleholds us. But I'll say one thing about this team, if we get a lead we don't give it up [in the end]. It's all part of the learning process."

In their 57-46 opening round win at Churchill on Friday, the Panthers had a 15-point lead nearly slip away.

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