That is the message Southern-AA girls basketball coach Linda Kilpatrick is trying to get across to anybody who will listen this week in the aftermath of the Bulldogs' gigantic 56-47 victory over defending state 4A champion Arundel last Tuesday night at Arundel.
"We deserved to win that game," said Kilpatrick. "It was no joke. We had to put the ball in the basket enough times to win and we did it with a total team effort. We played totally exhausting and maniac defense for four quarters in a straight 2-1-2 full-court zone press. Our first goal this season was to beat someone we weren't supposed to and our second goal is to get to the state tournament. We're on a high."
Kilpatrick conceded that powerful 4A Arundel (66-8 over three seasons) was No. 1 on the list of teams little 2A Southern wanted to knock off this season.
"What we've talked about every time we've played Arundel in the past couple of years is that we wanted to cut the margin of defeat," said the second-winningest girls basketball coach (321-154) in Anne Arundel County. "Last year we lost to them by 40. The first time we played them this year we lost by 20, but we knew we could play with them because we were down by only 1 point at halftime."
But just how did the unranked Bulldogs (9-9, 2-6 in the south division) manage to handle the suffocating Arundel pressure defense that has almost always bailed the eighth-ranked Wildcats (15-5, 6-2) out of trouble?
"In practice, I had my five starters working against the other eight players on the team," said Kilpatrick. "I told them if they could beat eight people pressing, it would be easy to handle five."
Senior guard Lindsey Lowman led the Bulldogs with 21 points and four steals and junior point guard Tiffany Neal had 11 points and four steals. Junior 5-foot-10 reserve center Jessica Downes added nine points.
Lowman has been running hot and cold all season, scoring as many as 30 against Severna Park but being held under double figures often. That accounts for her 12-point scoring average, which still leads the team.
Two 5-8 senior starters, Beth Smith and Jillian Williams, are the team's top rebounders, with Smith averaging nine and Williams eight.
Junior Joanne Robinson joins Lowman, Neal, Smith and Williams as starters and sophomore Alicia Groveston is a top reserve.
They were all treated by Kilpatrick to dinner at McDonalds after the Arundel win but weren't allowed to get too carried away.
"I told them they had to continue to play like this or the Arundel game wouldn't mean anything," said Kilpatrick, who is looking for a 10th trip to the state 2A championships in her 20 years as coach.
Kilpatrick has won five state titles and has three second-place finishes in her nine trips to the state final four.
The five state titles are one more than long-time Southern-AA boys basketball coach Tom Albright has captured in his 32 seasons and 13 trips to the states.
That isn't bad for a woman who is coaching at the smallest school in the county (1,000 students), compared to Arundel, which has approximately 2,200 students.
"I guess all the young people forget what Southern has done in the past [last trip to states was 1989]," said Kilpatrick. "At least the other coaches in the county know that Southern is always going to be prepared to play, no matter what kind of team it has.
"I know that when I go up against a Pat Chance at Old Mill xTC (winningest coach in the county with 412-149 record) or Sally Entsminger at North County (third in county wins at 290-229), I always tell my players they are the kind of coaches who have the ability to make their teams play above their capabilities and can win any game."
Pub Date: 2/16/97