For the Seton Keough Gators to have the success they believe they can enjoy in the postseason that begins next week, they know it will take efforts like the one they had yesterday against visiting McDonogh.
Harassing the No. 12 Eagles to no end, the No. 11 Gators used hard work on defense to trigger their offense, bringing a 48-39 win that clinched the top seed in the Y Division of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's A Conference playoffs.
Seton Keough improved to 17-6 overall and 14-3 in conference play, while McDonogh dropped to 17-5 and 13-4. Both teams will open the playoffs Wednesday with quarterfinal-round play against opponents yet to be decided.
With her Gators forcing 27 turnovers and getting 17 points from Heather Galvin and 11 more from Kristin McLaughlin, coach Jackie Boswell said she liked what she saw in the team's final prep before the postseason.
"We [have got to] play defense like that," she said. "If we can keep teams in the high 30s to low to mid 40s, we should be able to score enough to get wins."
"Our trait has always been defense and if we do that, the offense always takes care of itself."
After a couple of early misses, Galvin took care of most of her offensive work from the outside, hitting five three-pointers.
She hit consecutive three-pointers late in the first quarter to get warmed up, and after a tight first half that ended with the Gators leading 20-16, she was instrumental in providing the home team with the second-half push needed to keep the Eagles at a safe distance.
She scored 11 of her 17 in the second half as the Gators built a double-digit lead that stayed for much of the fourth quarter. Leading 36-31 going into the fourth, the Gators didn't allow a McDonogh field goal until the 4:18 mark, going on an 8-1 run.
"Basically, I feel like if I'm not on, I'm going to keep shooting and eventually things will begin to fall. The passes also have to be there and they were so I was happy about that," said Galvin.
The Eagles, who knocked off No. 3 Roland Park on Tuesday, got 17 points and nine rebounds from center Samantha Frost. Rachel Braver added 13.
As for next week's playoffs? "It's wide open," Boswell said. "I'm very happy with how we're playing. We seem to be peaking at just the right time, but so is everyone else in the conference."