The Archbishop Spalding girls basketball team found the balance it was looking for.
The fourth-ranked Cavaliers combined their advantage in the post with an accurate outside shooting touch to thump visiting No. 8 Mercy, 69-55, in a quarterfinal of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament in Severn yesterday.
Three Archbishop Spalding post players - seniors Kylie Bestul and Maggie Rapp and junior Lizzy Bayly - compiled 42 points, 20 rebounds and eight assists. A three-guard rotation of LaToya Strong, Stacy Hunt and Katie Latonick connected on eight three-pointers as the Cavaliers scored more points in the first half (45) than in seven games this season.
"It's always nice when we hit threes like we did in the first half," said Spalding coach Deb Taylor. "Hitting the three really opened up the inside for our big guys."
Hunt and Latonick nailed three three-pointers apiece, while Strong hit two in the second quarter.
That shooting prowess forced the Magic defense to step up to the three-point arc, allowing the Cavaliers to feed the ball to the post.
"Our guards were awesome from the three-point line," said Rapp, who scored 10 of her 14 points in the first half and collected five rebounds and three assists. "That really made it easy for us in the middle."
Archbishop Spalding (18-8) advanced to the tournament semifinals for the second straight season and will meet the second-ranked St. Frances, a 67-59 winner over St. Mary's, tomorrow.
After senior guard BJ Banjo's layup gave Mercy a 4-2 lead in the first quarter, the Cavaliers scored eight straight points to assume an advantage it would not relinquish.
Archbishop Spalding broke open the game in the second quarter when it enjoyed another 8-0 run to own a 17-point lead at halftime.
Banjo registered 27 points and 10 rebounds for Mercy (16-10), which had few answers against Archbishop Spalding.
"They were much quicker, and their shots were dropping more consistently than ours," said Magic coach Mary Ella Marion. "Today, they were just the better team."