The St. Paul's girls basketball team took a little different route yesterday compared to its previous meeting against Severn earlier in the season. But the No. 17 Gators found the same happy ending.
This time, a more balanced attack on offense complemented the Gators' always stingy defense and the result - a 50-46 home win over the No. 16 Admirals - put them alone atop the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference.
Junior center Mercedes Robinson, who dominated in the Gators' 61-49 win at Severn early last month with 23 points and 13 rebounds, managed 10 points and 10 rebounds, but got plenty of help.
Megan DelMonte also scored 10, and Caitlin Stone and Courtney Fields added eight points apiece. As for the Gators' defense, which limited the Admirals to just 29 percent accuracy from the field and forced 15 turnovers, senior guard Leslie Koch was the key.
Add it all together and it comes out as a complete team win, which puts the Gators at 15-4 overall and 12-1 in conference play. The Admirals (16-2) have solved every team they've met this season, but the Gators and are now 10-2 in conference play.
"I think we get really excited when we see all the fans and hear the cheering, and when we get really pumped up for a game everyone just starts playing well and it snowballs," said Koch.
With points from four players, the Gators built an 11-2 lead late in the first quarter, but the Admirals were able to work themselves back in the game with junior guard Sarah Meisenberg scoring 14 of her game-high 19 points in a first half that ended with the home team ahead 23-20.
The perimeter game - two jumpers from Koch and another from Shields - in the third quarter helped the Gators build a 34-24 lead, but the Admirals rallied again in the fourth.
Severn junior Kim Warpinski's second three-pointer of the quarter cut the lead to 39-37 with 5:03 left, but the Gators answered with defense and more perimeter shooting.
Shields hit a jumper, DelMonte got a steal and layup, Shields hit another jumper and DelMonte got another layup. With under three minutes to play, the Gators had a 47-40 lead and didn't look back.
Severn coach Chuck Miller said slow starting halves were the difference.
"They play very good defense, they're very aggressive and try to take us out of our offense and do a pretty good job of it," said Miller. "Once we get used to it, then we're OK again. But we just let them disrupt for whatever reason at the start of the game and the second half and it really hurt us."