LAUREL - Heather Landis takes pride in her free-throw shooting. The Chapelgate guard is even more accurate after she misses.
Landis made amends for missing the front end of a one-and-one free throw by sinking two more with 11.7 seconds left to clinch the Yellow Jackets' 56-52 win against host Pallotti in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference tournament semifinal last night.
Chapelgate, the No. 3 seed, will seek to retain the championship it captured last season against top-seeded St. Paul's tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Villa Julie College. The Gators defeated No. 4-seeded Severn, 51-35, in the other semifinal yesterday.
The Yellow Jackets (17-6) earned the right to defend their crown thanks to Landis' free throws late in the game.
Senior guard Carly Silver made a three-pointer from the top of the key with 35.4 seconds left to draw the Panthers (14-10) to 54-52, and Landis was fouled eight seconds later.
But she missed the front end of a one-and-one. Fortunately for Chapelgate, Pallotti freshman center Ashley Lyles (11 points, 11 rebounds) followed suit by missing the first half of a one-and-one with 16.9 seconds left.
Fouled again by the Panthers, Landis converted both free throws to essentially seal the game for the Yellow Jackets.
"I missed my first one-and-one. I had to clear it," the junior said as she pointed to her head, "and step up. They were definitely the biggest free throws this season."
Landis' foul shooting spoiled what would have been a stirring comeback for No. 2-seeded Pallotti, which opened the game with a 10-2 deficit and trailed by as many as 19 points in the second quarter.
Silver - who finished with 23 points, three rebounds and three steals - sparked the Panthers' rally in the third quarter, scoring six points in that period to help her team trail by only 41-36 at the start of the fourth period.
Two free throws by senior center Ali Marcum capped a 9-2 quarter-opening run for Pallotti, which took its first lead of the game with 5:11 left in the game.
With the score tied at 47 and less than three minutes left, junior guard Erica Lynott gave Chapelgate some room when she nailed a three-pointer.
"They were just giving me space," said Lynott (six points, 10 rebounds, three blocks). "We weren't doing so well, and we needed a shot. So I took it."
Landis posted 23 points, eight steals, four rebounds and three assists. Junior guard Donna Geiger chipped in with 12 points, and senior guard Laura Holtrop added nine points and six assists.