WALKERSVILLE -- Francis Scott Key, out of the lead for only 13 seconds midway of the third quarter, had to weather a desperate Walkersville rally to make off with a 63-60 victory in a Class 2A West semifinal last night.
Key (16-6), which will be home for the regional final tomorrow night, seemingly had things under control with a 60-48 lead after sophomore Jen Sawyer drove the length of the court for a layup just 70 seconds from the final whistle.
The play loomed bigger and bigger in the last minute, and it turned out to be the visitors' last basket. "She's a sophomore and knows no fear," coach Alice Smith said of the 5-foot-7 guard.
After Walkersville (14-9) converted three press-caused turnovers into six points, the margin was 60-54, and a Julia Demirer foul shot closed the gap another notch.
With 27 seconds left, Jessica Matos, Key's go-to player, made two free throws, the last of a 9-for-9 performance, for 62-55.
Demirer, a 20-point scorer on the season, who had 33 in a quarterfinal win over Einstein Monday, knocked down a three-pointer to make it 62-58.
Jessie Suter, who had 11 of her 18 points in the first half, countered with a foul shot, and Walkersville used all but one of the last 13 seconds missing two shots before finally getting a basket.
For the most part it was a game of spurts and Key had most of them. The Eagles opened an 8-2 lead in less than four minutes, and later stretched it to 19-9 before the Lions rallied to get within 25-19 at the half.
Demirer, a 5-10 junior as comfortable putting up three-pointers as she is working inside, stuck her game in fast forward for the last eight minutes. She crammed in 18 of her game-high 24 points and was the player her teammates looked for every time.
"The rest of the players feed off her," first-year Walkersville coach Mike Mathis said. "She was passive in the first half and it showed. We did not concentrate early, but I thought we did a better job in the second half. Still, you have to take better care of the ball."
Key's Smith said of the 24-minute defensive job on Demirer, "We got on her; bothered her."
"We did some very good things," Smith added. "We got some steals and we drove on them. We've been working on that fake-and-drive and we must have got it 15 times. We hadn't done that all season."
Junior guard Sindi Stem, who orchestrated the triumph from outside, said, "For the last month [a 10-2 record, with the losses by a total of six points), "coach has taken the things we were doing wrong and worked on them. She pulled out of us all we had to give."
Pub Date: 3/05/98