Before last night's regional quarterfinal game, Francis Scott Key coach Alice Smith said her team could use a confidence booster.
The Eagles sure got one -- rolling over Baltimore County's Carver A&T;, 55-22, in the Class 1A South region at Key.
"We needed this," said second-year coach Smith, "because we're not as solid a program as we would like to be although I think this year we are finally getting there. We've won four in a row now and this is the best I've seen them play."
Shooting guard Nicole Keffer scored 10 of her game-high 14 points in the first quarter to boost the Eagles to a 15-4 lead. After that, the Wildcats (10-11) never got closer than within seven.
Midway through the third quarter, the Eagles (15-9) ran their lead to 24 points. Consecutive baskets within 29 seconds by Stacey Greene, Ericka Rutzebeck and Stephanie Stambaugh boosted Key ahead, 41-17.
The Eagles were so dominant that they outshot the Wildcats, 76-37, and outrebounded them, 52-33.
Carver, a second-year varsity program playing its first-ever regional playoff game, had to finish the last minute with only four players. Two of the seven Wildcats, including top scorer Jessica Stewart (13 points), fouled out and another suffered a mild ankle injury.
For the Eagles, however, defense was the story. Without the ball handlers to contend with Key's half-court trap, Carver turned over the ball 35 times -- 22 times in the first half alone.
While the Eagles did the job defensively, they struggled at times offensively. They shot 32 percent from the field, but missed quite a few layups and easy put-backs.
"It's hard to keep your focus in a game like this when you're kind of blowing them out," said Keffer.
The Eagles know they won't get away with losing their concentration again, because they play host to Smithsburg in tomorrow's 7 p.m. semifinal.
Smithsburg clobbered Boonsboro, 70-34, last night in its quarterfinal game. During the regular season, Key split with the Leopards winning the first game, 51-43, but dropping the second, 51-49.
"We have got to make those shots against Smithsburg," said 5-10 forward Cindy Sheedy. "I want to beat that team so bad and we know we can beat them. The last time we lost by only two points."
Sheedy scored nine and had five rebounds and 6-0 center Stambaugh scored six and grabbed five rebounds.
* Frederick 70, Liberty 50: Heather Winter scored 25 to lead visiting Frederick (7-15) over Liberty (0-19).
* C. Milton Wright 68, Franklin 49: Erin Updegrove scored 26 points as the No. 4 Mustangs (20-0) won a Class 3A North game.
* Catonsville 73, Overlea 19: Meghan Mohler scored 23 points to help the No. 8 Comets (20-2) past the host Falcons in a Class 2A North game.
* Poly 57, City 31: Lindsay Willemain had 12 points and 18 rebounds as the No. 12 Engineers (19-3) downed the visiting Knights in a Class 2A East game.
* Hammond 62, Lackey 50: Rene Hines scored 30 to power the visiting No. 14 Bears (17-7) past the visiting Chargers in a Class 2A South game.
* Milford Mill 67, Patapsco 31: Akialh Crowner scored 12 points as the No. 16 Millers (23-2) topped the visiting Patriots in a Class 2A North game.
* Towson 48, Loch Raven 33: Leslie Hunt with 11 led the Generals (12-6) past the visiting Raiders in a Class 2A North game.
* Atholton 51, Dunbar 18: Sara Pierson scored 10 points as the Raiders (10-11) topped the host Poets (3-15) in a Class 3A East game.
* Howard 83, Carver 38: Chanelle Carter scored 25 to power the host Lions (11-12) past the Bears (10-9) in a Class 3A East game.
* Dulaney 46, Lake Clifton 35: Tracy Miksis had 13 points and seven rebounds to lift the Lions (8-13) over the visiting Lakers in a Class 4A North game.