Host and 12th-ranked Old Mill came out firing yesterday, taking a 12-point halftime lead that ballooned to 17 after three quarters on the way to a stunning 53-36 upset of No. 5 Arundel in the Class 4A East girls basketball regional final.
Junior Ashley Jones led four Patriots in double figures with 19 points, followed by Aleah Queen (16), Anisha Queen (15) and Kiara Thomas (10). The Patriots shot 44 percent (24-for-54) from the field.
The Wildcats have been Anne Arundel's dominant team over the past decade, winning 10 county, eight regional and three state titles since 1996. What happened to them yesterday was what they normally do to opponents.
"We got into a hole, and we had a hard time fighting back," said Lee Rogers, Arundel's 17-year coach, whose 77-year-old father died in North Carolina earlier in the week. "They were the best team today."
It is the first regional title for the Patriots (22-4) since 1993, when they won their fourth and last state championship under coach Pat Chance. The Patriots will play the North winner at 5 p.m. Thursday at UMBC.
Craig White, who succeeded Chance in the 1997-98 season, had not beaten Arundel in his 10 seasons until yesterday. White estimated the string of losses to the Wildcats (21-5) at about 26.
"We had never beaten Arundel in a game since I've been coach, but this was a good time to do it, in the 4A East regional final," White said.
The Patriots jumped out to an 18-3 lead after the first period and pushed the lead to 18 twice in the second before Arundel made a little run to cut the deficit to 32-20 at the break.
"We've been coming out hard in the first half in the playoffs, and it was the first half that got us to where we needed to be today," Queen said.
Ashley Davis led Arundel with 14 points.