To many teams, losing a pair of All-Metro players might be considered a crushing blow. It's quickly becoming clear, however, that this year's version of the Seton Keough Gators is anything but the norm.
A few months after losing Meghann Donovan and Melanie Morris to graduation, coach Jim Stromberg's team hasn't missed a beat.
After last night's 47-38 victory over No. 15 Howard in the final of the Comet Christmas Classic at Catonsville High, the top-ranked Gators are 7-1.
While Keough may not yet be as strong a team as last season's, they don't seem to be far behind.
"I feel that we can be, but we need to develop our freshmen," said guard Amanda Foster, who led the Gators with 12 points. "We have to play as a team, and that's what we did tonight."
After trading baskets with the Lions (3-4) in the early going, Seton Keough turned up the intensity on defense and quickly turned the game into a rout.
Leading 9-7 with 2: 27 left in the first quarter, the Gators held their opponents scoreless for the next 7: 41 and without a field goal for the rest of the half.
Meanwhile, they went on an 18-0 run that extended their lead to 27-7 with 2: 48 left in the first half.
They had little difficulty taking advantage of Howard's lack of ball control, forcing turnover after turnover, and took advantage on the offensive end.
The Gators forced 16 turnovers in the first half, including 11 in the second quarter, and held the Lions to 2-for-17 shooting.
"We are not protecting the ball," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell.
"We struggle at the guard position, and that hurt us tonight. But I give a lot of credit for that to Keough's defense."
Howard, however, got a big boost just before halftime, when Stromberg was ejected from the game after receiving a double technical.
Led by senior Chanelle Carter (game-high 21 points), who scored her 1,000th career point in the fourth quarter, the Lions finished -- the half with a 7-0 run and later cut the lead to nine.
But they could get no closer, as Seton Keough regained control and cruised to the victory.
Charity Carbine and Andra Pineiro each added 10 points for the victors.
In the consolation, Carol Schmeller scored 15 points to lead four players in double figures as host Catonsville defeated St. Paul's, 66-58.
Marci Brewer added 13 points, Sue Digby 12 and Ellen Gibson 10 for the Comets (4-4).
Samantha Murray scored a game-high 20 points for the Gators (4-5), and Laura Peace added 13.
Pub Date: 12/29/96