Panthers coach Greg Knill is using his North Carroll Holiday Tournament as a measuring stick.
In the season opener on Dec. 6, the Francis Scott Key Eagles were 18 points better than his team.
Today, three weeks later, the two teams will meet again in the tournament final.
Both teams strolled into the championship with impressive showings yesterday. Francis Scott Key got things started with an 81-16 win over Patapsco and the host Panthers made it a sweep for the Carroll County teams with a 61-31 victory over Joppatowne.
"It should be a good rematch and a nice test for us," Knill said. "We know where we were then. We'll see where we are now. [Francis Scott Key] is a quality team."
The Panthers used a 14-0 run midway through the first quarter to turn a two-point deficit into a 20-8 lead. They were never challenged after that. The Panthers (3-3) got solid guard play from senior Aubrey Wilfong and sophomore Stephanie Rogers, both of whom finished with 10 points. Ten players scored at least four points for North Carroll.
"We worked together, worked as a team," said Wilfong. "We used our quickness, especially inside."
Knill will need the same strong guard play to handle the Eagles' xTC defensive pressure. The Panthers also will have to hold their own on the boards.
"We need to stay with them until we can get settled in. They're constantly putting on pressure and if we don't handle it well, they'll make the six- to eight-point run. We can't let that happen."
Joppatowne (1-4) got a solid game from sophomore guard Menique Washington, who finished with 17 points, including two three-pointers. Junior guard Nicole Baines added 11.
"We played a good team and haven't been playing that well ourselves lately," said Joppatowne coach Roy Washington. "They dominated the boards and if you can't control the boards, you can't win. Menique plays hard and hustles. She's only a sophomore, so she's still learning the fundamentals."
Francis Scott Key, with a decisive size advantage, simply overwhelmed Patapsco. The Eagles ran out to a 21-2 lead in the first period with a strong trapping defense that resulted in a number of easy baskets.
The Eagles started quick when center Stephanie Stambaugh sent the tip-off to guard Nicole Keffer, who found forward Cindy Sheedy underneath for two.
Then the defense took over, forcing 12 turnovers and limiting the Patriots to six shots in the first quarter. The Eagles stretched the lead to 37-3 at the half and got an opportunity to use every player.
"It gave us a chance to work on some things, get some confidence and get everybody in," said Key coach Alice Smith. "We were a lot taller. At the start, It looked like our shortest player was taller than their tallest."
Ten players scored for the Eagles, with Keffer leading the way with 21 points. Stambaugh added 16 points and seven rebounds. Guards Jessica Matos and Sindi Stem each had 10 points and combined for 12 steals.
Pub Date: 12/27/96