Seton Keough's Keisha Blackwell won a battle of premier backcourt players over John Carroll's Jen Biscoe, as the Gators advanced yesterday to their league's championship game by beating the Patriots, 45-41.
The fourth-ranked Gators will play No. 15 Roland Park, a 46-42 winner yesterday over No. 12 Mercy, for the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Loyola College.
Blackwell, a Street & Smith's preseason honorable-mention All-America, finished with 12 points, six assists and three steals, including two important three-pointers in the third period, and two free throws in the closing seconds that iced the win.
But the Gators junior gave credit to Biscoe, a second-team All-Metro pick, for her play.
"Jenny's a great player -- makes me run, plays good defense. I'm always tired after playing against her," said Blackwell.
The Gators trailed only once and used a 13-2 run, sparked by consecutive three-pointers by Nikki Brown (12 points, six rebounds) and Meaghan Allan, to create their largest lead of the game, 37-24, with five minutes to play.
But Biscoe (eight points, six assists, five steals) nearly stole the game, engineering a 12-0 run by No. 5 John Carroll (18-7) that had the Patriots a point back, 37-36, with 1: 21 remaining. Biscoe's three-point play made it 37-30 with 4: 02 left, and a minute later, her two free throws made it 37-34.
A defensive rebound by Biscoe led to a put-back by Meghan Sparks, making it 37-36. Sparks scored all of her game-high 13 points in the second half.
But Seton Keough spurted ahead again on Denise King's three-point play, a foul shot, and another basket.
Down 43-36 with 33 seconds left, John Carroll's Kristin Jasper (nine points) nailed a three-pointer, then blocked an inbounds pass, which led to a short jumper by Mary Kate Sullivan to make it 43-41, Gators.
With seven seconds left and her team now trailing 44-41, Biscoe rimmed a three-point attempt, around which Blackwell sandwiched a couple of free throws for the final score.
"We used a zone, some man-to-man, to get back in the game but couldn't knock down that last shot," Biscoe said.
A 7-0 run sparked by a three-pointer by King (eight points) gave Seton Keough a 19-14 halftime lead.