Points have been coming quite regularly from Severn junior guard Sarah Meisenberg all season, so Admirals coach Chuck Miller was certain there would be no exception in yesterday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship game against St. Paul's at Villa Julie College.
Even after a two-point first half from his star shooter, a half in which the Admirals led by four, Miller made sure to tell her that things would be fine just before the third quarter started.
"He just said: 'Sarah, don't worry about the points, they'll come,' " said Meisenberg.
And indeed they came - from three-point range, on driving layups, short pull-up jumpers and down the stretch at the free-throw line.
Meisenberg finished with a game-high 23 points - her season's average - to lead the No. 16 Admirals to their first conference crown in a 54-47 win over the No. 15 Gators.
In defeating top-seeded St. Paul's (19-6) for the first time in three tries this season, the Admirals (24-3) got a big-time effort from their only senior, 5-foot-9 center Jess Adam; a hot-shooting first half from junior forward Kim Warpinski (11 points) and a collective strong defensive effort against the taller Gators.
And when the time came, Meisenberg, who also had seven assists and five steals, was doing what she has been doing all season - scoring.
Meisenberg scored eight points in the third quarter to help build a 37-24 lead, and when the Gators rallied later - cutting the lead to 41-40 with 4:20 left - she scored eight straight points to help the Admirals pull away.
"About halfway through the third quarter they just started making all their shots, and it kind of flustered us. But we had the big lead so we were able to stay ahead and when it got really close, I just knew I had to get to the basket," said Meisenberg, who hit all six of her free throws in the final 3:40. "This was pretty amazing because they beat us twice already this season, but coming into the game we knew we could beat them - it's a great feeling."
Adam was the catalyst of the defense. She covered St. Paul's 6-foot standout junior center Mercedes Robinson (team-high 15 points) and also managed to pull down 15 rebounds, score nine points and hand out five assists.
St. Paul's coach Jon Strebe, whose Gators reached the championship game for the second straight year, was quick to credit Severn.
"Quite frankly, they out-competed us.," he said. "Our kids have really come a long way. They've worked hard, and we can't take anything away from our season. I'm just really proud of them."