For a team that was not supposed to get as far as the regional semifinals, Glen Burnie gave host Westminster all it could handle last night. In the end, the Owls wore out the Anne Arundel team from three-point range and from the foul line to claim a 66-61 Class 4A East victory.
Annapolis stopped Meade, 64-62, in the other 4A semifinal. Since both winners were at home, Westminster, as the higher seed (6), will be at home against the Panthers (8) tomorrow night at 7 o'clock for the 4A East title.
Westminster (16-8), which reeled off a 13-0 burst in the first half, used a 10-0 spurt to pile up a 54-43 advantage, and Mark Gonzalez, who was playing sick, opened the final quarter with a close-in shot for a 13-point lead.
That cushion lasted less than four minutes, as seniors Vernon Crowder and Antoine Rich and junior Owen Gaither combined for 13 points to draw the Gophers within 59-56 with 2: 50 to go.
Rich put the Anne Arundel faithful on their feet when he nailed his second three-pointer of the quarter to cut the gap to 62-61 with 1: 30 on the clock.
Krug, who led the Owls with 17 points, kept the home crowd on edge by making one free throw and missing one for 63-61. Whitestone duplicated the feat for 64-61 at 0: 40.
Davis, a 92 percent shooter on the season but who had two misses in the last two minutes, did the same, and the home fans could breathe a little easier.
In the last stretch, there was one critical call that went the Owls' way. Trailing 63-61, and off a missed Krug foul shot, Luckey Williams and Gaither scrambled for the loose ball. There was a whistle for a traveling violation, and Gaither had a clear path to a possible tying layup.
The home side got the ball, and Whitestone was fouled on the ensuing play.
Early on, Westminster had to dig itself out of a 20-10 hole against the race-horse visitors in the first five minutes, then put on a burst of its own. The home team took off on a 13-0 run in the next four minutes, sparked by a pair of Desmond Esteves three-pointers for a 23-22 margin.
In one seven-minute, the Owls outscored the visitors, 22-6, and led 32-26. It was 38-31 at the half.
The outside bombers -- seniors Esteves, Aaron Krug, and Sean Davis, who combined for seven on the night -- then turned the work over to the two inside people, seniors Gonzalez and Matt Whitestone.
The latter, especially, had one of his best games, scoring and rebounding. He had surpassed his seven points only twice earlier, both in blowouts where he got 12 and 10. Gonzalez added six points, and both were intense defenders.
Pub Date: 3/06/98