Yesterday's showdown between No. 3 McDonogh and No. 7 Centennial, did not live up to its billing as a defensive struggle. Host McDonogh's defense got the upper hand early and cruised a 62-31 victory for the championship of the 12th Holly N Hoops Tournament.
A zone press sparked McDonogh to a 22-10 lead after the first two baskets of the second quarter and helped run the margin to 20 points by late in the half. Centennial (6-2) never again got closer than 18.
After losing to McDonogh (9-1) last year, 41-39, in a Holly N Hoops first-round game, Centennial's players had hoped to get their revenge yesterday. McDonogh's defense made sure that didn't happen, forcing 16 turnovers during an 11-minute, 30-6 run that put McDonogh ahead 34-14 with a little more than a minute left before halftime.
"We just weren't ready for the intensity of their press," said Centennial guard Michelle Kincaid, who scored nine points. Teammate Tia Richardson scored 10.
"We know what they're going to do and we know how their press works, but you're never ready for that last 10 percent they give to get the ball that we don't have," Kincaid said.
Centennial managed to contend with the press early and used their intense man-to-man defense to force a couple of quick turnovers. They hit their first four shots to take an 8-4 lead, but McDonogh answered by forcing five turnovers while scoring 14 straight points.
"Even when we got beat on our press, we did a really good job of recovering and getting back," McDonogh coach Katie Keating said. "We didn't give up too many easy layups. You're always going to give up some when you press, but we did a great job of recovering even when we got beat."
McDonogh had 20 steals in the game, including eight by All-Metro guard Vicki Brick, who also scored 18 points and had three assists. Brick and her teammates struck in waves, using their press and excellent ball movement on offense to build several big runs.
Centennial could not put a dent in the lead after halftime either, because McDonogh forced five turnovers and scored the first nine points to run its lead to 45-16.
McDonogh's top three players -- Brick, 6-0 center Shani Moore (nine points, 14 rebounds) and shooting guard Mary Urban (eight points) -- did their share of damage, but the team also got stellar games from Katie Nelson (10 points), Aisha Mason, Jazmine Norton and Ellen Haller.
"We're very deep and that's one of our biggest strengths," Keating said. "That's why we can press like that, because we can put eight and nine kids in there and everyone gets a little rest. That enables us to always play aggressive defense."
Severna Park 50, Gov. Mifflin 45: The Falcons trailed much of the second half, but outscored the Mustangs 11-2 in the final 4: 22 to win the tournament consolation game. The Mustangs, of Reading, Pa., took a 43-39 lead on Jessica Aitken's three-point play early in the fourth quarter and led 45-43 with 3: 10 left.
But the Falcons (2-5) used their press to force three critical turnovers by the Mustangs (4-6).
After Natalie Hicks hit a driving layup to tie the game, Meredith McAlister and Beth Davis had steals, and Hicks and Davis converted three of four free throws to give the Falcons a 48-45 lead with 1: 42 to go.
Pub Date: 12/28/97