Forget the big win over Dunbar at the Basketball Academy last month. Forget the win over a tough Westlake team at Christmas. This was the game the Woodlawn girls really wanted to win.
After two losses to Catonsville kept the No. 5 Warriors out of the Baltimore County championship last season, the Warriors finally got their revenge last night by holding off the No. 17 Comets for a 63-54 victory.
"We beat Catonsville," said it all for grinning Warriors guard Tiara Wildy, who hit five three-pointers en route to 20 points. "We lost to them last year and we wanted to show them that we're not the same team we were last year - we're better."
With the win, the Warriors (16-0) improve to 8-0 in the county's Division II and take over sole possession of first place. The Comets (10-6), who also came into the game at Woodlawn unbeaten in the division, dropped to 7-1.
The two teams - both state semifinalists last season - meet again at Catonsville on Feb. 18, but until then, the Warriors will savor this victory.
They used a strong inside-outside combination to run their lead as high as 14 points midway through the fourth quarter. Wildy's precision from outside - she hit two 20-footers in the first quarter - and Ronda Shelley's domination of the boards gave the Comets trouble.
Shelley, a 5-foot-11 junior forward, finished with 16 points and 23 of the Warriors' 52 rebounds.
"Ronda stepped up," Wildy said. "She's one of our leaders, and she's got a lot of post moves. There's really nobody in the county that can go with Ronda when Ronda's ready to play."
Shelley got some help inside from 6-2 freshman center Kim Carr, who had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Several times in the second half, the Warriors appeared on the brink of running away with the game, but the Comets hung in.
After Shelley followed her own shot to put Woodlawn up 55-42 with 5:07 left in the game, Tanisha Drummond came out of nowhere at the other end to follow a shot by Carly Wasserbach. Becky Clipp then hit a free throw and made a nice move to the bucket on a feed from Sandy Wasserbach.
That five-point Comets run cut the lead to 55-47 with 4:34 to go. But they would get no closer.
After the Warriors ran the lead back to 58-49, Kelly Blake took a three-point shot that would have cut the lead to six with 1:35 to go, but the ball rimmed out. The Warriors hit five free throws in the final 1:09 to maintain their lead.
"In all my years, we've never lost to Woodlawn, but they're awesome this year," said Clipp, a senior guard, who led the Comets with 16 points. "This year, they've got everything going for them. They haven't lost, and we've got to keep our heads up."