Just after a timeout midway through the fourth quarter of last night's Class 3A North regional girls basketball semifinal, the City fans began chanting, "Finish it. Finish it."
The Knights had just taken a five-point lead with a big run to open the quarter and they needed to keep the momentum going to hold off No. 11 Catonsville.
Thanks to their pressure defense, hot three-point shooting and 17 fourth-quarter points from Breaira Barksdale, the Knights kept control and finished off the host Comets, 67-58.
"I just feel we had to come out strong [in the fourth quarter]," said Barksdale, who finished with 20 points. "It was important for us to win this game so we could get at Western."
The Knights, who have lost twice to Western this season in close games, got their wish. They travel to Western for the regional title game tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Last night, the Knights hit 10 three-pointers to counter a strong inside game from the Comets, who out-rebounded City 45-31 in the first three quarters. Freshman guard LaShay Taft led the long-distance assault with five three-pointers en route to a game-high 31 points.
With 1:56 to go in the third quarter, Catonsville (20-4) appeared in control, running up a 43-34 lead when Shamika Williams fed Jessica Nonn for a layup on the break, but the Knights struck back. They cut the lead to four when Taft hit two free throws and fed Kia Baker for a three-pointer to end the quarter.
The Knights (18-7) then used their pressure defense to force nine turnovers in the final quarter. After the Knights opened the quarter with a 14-4 run to take a 53-47 lead with 4:17 left, the Comets rallied to cut their deficit to two with 2:55 left.
City answered with back-to-back three-pointers from Barksdale and Andrea Lee to all but put the game away, taking a 61-53 lead with 2:02 left.
"We broke down. We couldn't break the press and they shot well," said Williams, the Comets' point guard, who has played much of the season with a broken bone in her left hand.
Nonn and Williams scored 15 points each for the Comets, and Tiffany McMillion added nine points and 15 rebounds.