Top-ranked Seton Keough can chalk yet another win up to defense.
Their man-to-man gave Mount de Sales enough trouble to help the Gators escape with a 31-26 victory last night at the third annual Comet Christmas Classic at Catonsville High School.
The Gators (6-1) needed all the defense they could muster, because they managed very little offense. They didn't score a point until Charity Carbine's driving layup with 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
In the first half, the Gators shot 15 percent from the floor, and although they improved a bit in the second, they still finished at 20 percent (12-for-60).
Kelly Kearney was the top-scoring Gator with six points.
"Defensively, we're fine," said Seton Keough coach Jim Stromberg. "Offensively, we missed layups, we missed any kind of shot imaginable. I think our maturity as far as new kids learning to take the big shots, isn't there. We're missing two All-Metro players [graduates Meghann Donovan and Melanie Morris]. These kids are still a little apprehensive about taking the big shots."
The Sailors, however, caused some of Seton Keough's problems with their aggressive play.
"You can't be No. 1 without having great talent and being physical," said Sailors coach Bill Held, "so we thought whatever physical [ability] we have, we've got to go at them at their game. If we make fouls being tough then we're going to do that."
That strategy didn't hurt the Sailors since the Gators hit only six of 13 from the line. However, free-throw shooting kept the Sailors (6-6) in the game as they hit 13 of 19 from the line, including six of seven in the fourth quarter.
Katrina Zelenka hit three foul shots with 53 seconds left to pull the Sailors, who had trailed by as many as 11, within 31-26. Although the Sailors had rallied from six down with 40 seconds left Thursday night to beat St. Paul's, they couldn't pull off two comebacks in a row.
The Gators broke away for good late in the third quarter after Zelenka's pull-up jumper tied the game at 17. Carbine hit Kearney for a baseline jumper with 2: 47 remaining in the quarter to spark a nine-point Gators run. Kearney's free throw with 5: 44 to go boosted the lead to 26-17.
After Suzanne Smith hit a free throw for the Sailors, Denise King answered and Andrea Pinheiro found Nikki Brown for a layup and a 29-18 Gators lead, their biggest of the game.
The Gators go for their second straight Classic championship against No. 15 Howard in tonight's 8: 15 title game.
The Lions (3-3) got 27 points from Chanelle Carter to beat Catonsville, 65-50, in last night's other semifinal.
The Comets (3-4) hung with the Lions into the second half and even tied the score at 28 on Marci Brewer's three-point play midway through. But Carter, who scored 17 in the second half, rallied the Lions.
Evelyn Nkwenti (10 points) and Lisa Pasteur (15 points) combined for the first five points of the fourth quarter as the Lions finished off a 22-6 run over five and a half minutes.
Pub Date: 12/28/96