As fragile as emotions are, they proved to be the Severna Park girls basketball team's best friend.
Riding a wave that was on display from the outset, the No. 16 Falcons seized control of their destiny by cruising past Chesapeake, 55-38, for the Anne Arundel County championship last night at Broadneck High in Annapolis.
Severna Park avenged a Dec. 20 loss to the Cougars by wielding a sense of urgency that was lacking in their previous meeting.
"I watched that game last night [Monday], and I fell asleep," said Falcons coach Bill Giblin. "There was no emotion, but tonight we were pumped up to play."
Junior point guard Jessica Norris echoed her coach's sentiments, adding, "We wanted to show that we are a better team than the one that played in that first game."
With the victory, Severna Park (18-5) captured its first county title since the county instituted a season-finale championship game for the 1995-96 season.
Forced to play without the team's second-leading scorer, junior guard Lauren Hall (academic ineligibility), the Falcons received a game-high 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists from junior forward Julia Waters.
Norris contributed 13 points, four assists and four steals, while senior guard Lisa Magness scored 12 points.
In the 57-48 win on Dec. 20, Chesapeake handcuffed Waters to six points as junior guards Lynnea Spinnenweber and Courtney Gogolinski combined to score 30 points.
Last night, the roles were reversed. Gogolinski scored just eight points and Spinnenweber connected on just one three-pointer, off the backboard.
Severna Park won every major statistical category. The Falcons collected nine more rebounds, grabbed nine more steals and went to the free-throw line 15 more times.
"We decided early on to control the game by controlling the boards," said Waters, who transferred from South River 13 months ago. "I had my girl beat every time."
Taking a 26-22 lead into halftime, Severna Park went on a 7-2 run in the third quarter to take a nine-point advantage.
Every time Chesapeake tried to chip away at the gap, the Falcons answered with a timely basket until the win was clinched.
The Cougars (17-6) were led by junior forward Meghan Klug, who posted a team-high 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, but the team may have been undone by some anxiety regarding their first appearance in a county championship game.
"None of us have been in a game like that," Klug said. "In the beginning, we were really nervous, and that took away from our game."
Although the Cougars converted 39.5 percent (17-for-43) of their shots from the field, they missed 15 of 23 attempts in the second half and scored only 16 points over the final two quarters.
"We didn't shoot well, we didn't rebound well, and they shot well," said Chesapeake coach John Spinnenweber.
The teams won't meet again this season. Severna Park is the No. 3 seed in the Class 3A East region, while the Cougars are No. 2 in the 4A East region.