Winning last night's state Class 1A semifinal would have been a tall order for Hereford.
Against Allegany, the Bulls gave away 3 or 4 inches in all but a couple matchups, and the Campers took advantage en route to a 63-42 victory at UMBC.
The Campers (24-3) will meet No. 8-ranked Glenelg, a 61-45 winner over Cambridge-South Dorchester, for the Class 1A championship at 6 p.m. today at UMBC.
For the Bulls (20-8), who returned to the state tournament for the first time since 1982, quickness was not enough to overcome the Western Marylanders' height advantage and their 53 percent shooting from the field.
Almost every time down court, the Campers got a good look at the basket. With three 5-10 starters and one 5-9, they converted easily on layups and short jump shots. They also out-rebounded the Bulls, 39-25.
"They boxed us out, and we didn't get any rebounds," said Bulls junior Paige Nichol. "We couldn't deal with their height. We were a little intimidated by their size."
Tracey Little, a 5-10 junior forward who already holds the school record for career points and rebounds, led the Campers with 26 points. Cassie Murray added 21 for the Western Maryland team.
The Bulls' top two scorers, Gina Allen and Tara Clarke, who average 19 points between them, combined for just 12 points. Nichol, a 5-3 guard who averages just 5.3 points a game, led the Bulls with 13 points. She was also their top rebounder with six.
The Campers broke away in the second quarter with an opening 12-3 run and scored two baskets in the final 14 seconds of the half to take a 30-16 lead. They extended the margin as high as 48-21 late in the third quarter.
Then the Bulls started to rally. Jackie Harper hit two short jumpers and Nichol converted a steal to pull within 48-37. But it was too late to make up all the ground.
In the first half, Allen and Clarke, managed just three points between them. Allen missed her first four shots before popping a three pointer with 1: 52 left before halftime. Clarke, who averages 9.6 points per game, picked up her third foul in the first minute of the second quarter, and scored only on four second-half free throws.
Early on, the Bulls took a 6-2 lead when Jodi Anderson went coast-to-coast to convert a steal, but the Campers used their height advantage to spark a 10-point run. The Campers hit their first four shots of the second quarter and seven of their first nine.
For the Bulls, the trip to the state semifinals was a reward in itself. With only four seniors on the team, they have plans to return.
"We'll be back next year," said Nichol, "and we're going to win it then."
Pub Date: 3/13/99