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The Baltimore Sun

One thing set Catonsville apart from Western yesterday - defense.

The unranked Comets relied on it. The No. 3 Doves didn't play much of it.

Catonsville's sticky man-to-man stifled the Doves and sparked a 15-point first-quarter lead that fueled a 61-51 victory - and the biggest upset of the girls basketball season - at the 12th annual Basketball Academy at Morgan State's Hill Field House.

The Comets drew plenty of motivation from Friday's 61-51 loss to No. 7 City, said Catonsville's Shamika Williams, who had 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists yesterday.

"We were ready," she said. "The whole team wanted this game more than anything. We hustled and played defense. This was the biggest win."

The Comets hit their first four shots and zipped out to a 10-2 lead, running the floor and getting open shots inside.

Catonsville (9-2) showed a versatile offense, running a patient set attack but also getting out for quick outlet passes. They took 21 fewer shots than the Doves but hit 49 percent from the field. They also out-rebounded Western, 41-35.

"I thought our defense was good," Comets coach Mike Mohler said. "We made them shooters more than drivers. We wanted to play a lot better position defense and rebound the ball. We didn't rebound the ball well at all against City."

The Doves (9-3), who shot 36 percent from the field, chipped a little off the 15-point lead, but the Comets wouldn't let Western back in it. They extended their lead to 19 points when Shelby Polk scored off a steal to make it 45-26 three minutes into the second half.

Western made its strongest move in the final four minutes, forcing six Comets turnovers to spark a 10-point spurt. Akeema Richards' layup with 1:56 left cut the Comets' lead to 58-49, but the run came too late.

"I don't think we played defense for a consistent four minutes out of 32 minutes of basketball," Western coach Tiffany Silver said. "And they have not bought into the system yet. They think they can just play basketball and not think basketball and that's the kind of outcome you get when you're outthought."

The Comets got a terrific game from freshman guard Zoey Whittington, who was named the team's Most Valuable Player. Whittington had 19 points and eight rebounds. Jessica Noon scored 16.

For the Doves, Richards was named MVP for scoring 20.

No. 2 St. Frances 51, No. 8 Dulaney 23 -- Briana Hutchen scored 11 of her 13 points in the second quarter, and the Panthers (14-3) broke away from the Lions (7-2). Teammate Shatyra Hawkes led all scorers with 16 points.

Riverdale Baptist 62, No. 7 City 38 -- The Knights (10-1) cut a 15-point deficit to nine as LaShay Taft (14 points) hit four free throws and fed Breaira Barksdale with 5:01 to go, but Ataira Franklin and Destiny Williams answered with back-to-back three-pointers, all but ending the upset bid.katheirne.dunn@baltsun.com

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