A more than 20-year absence came to an end Saturday afternoon at Patterson Mill High School.
The C. Milton Wright Mustangs girls basketball team won the Class 3A North Region championship, the first since the Mustangs went to back-to-back state semifinals in 1995 and 1996.
The win came over the Towson Generals, 34-18, in a game neither team could find much offense, until the Mustangs (21-2) started to come alive in the third quarter.
The Mustangs will play Thursday in a state semi at Towson University’s SECU Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. against Frederick.
“It feels phenomenal, I have a great group of girls, they work their butts off every single day,” Mustangs coach Rebecca Dutko said. “They worked their butts off last year and it carried over into this year and I just can’t tell you how amazing these girls are and they work hard all the time.”
Those girls and the Towson girls worked hard, but neither was finding much offensive success early on.
Daija Fitchett, the Generals 6-foot forward, scored two early baskets for Towson for the early lead. Those, however, were all of Towson’s first quarter baskets.
CMW, meanwhile, wasn’t much better. They, too, had two made baskets, and a 3-for-10 showing at the free throw line gave the Mustangs a 7-4 lead through one quarter.
It was a sign of things to come. Towson scored no more than five in any quarter, while CMW reached double digits only in the third quarter with 12.
“You can’t win if you don’t score,” Towson coach Rebecca Cahall said. “I have no idea, I have no idea, we came out ready to go, it seemed like. I don’t have an answer.”
Part of the answer was the steady, tough defense of the Mustangs. They forced a number of turnovers and the Generals took a few bad shots.
“Our defense, like I told you before when we played Aberdeen, it’s all about our defense,” Dutko said. “Those girls are defensive juggernauts, they stop the ball, they know how to move and just tonight, they were nervous. That’s why our shots were falling as easily, so they picked it up 110 percent on defense and that’s what we needed. That’s how you win games, is good defense.”
More than halfway through the second quarter, CMW’s lead was 10-6. It moved to an 15-8 lead at the half.
The Mustangs came out of the break with a little more intensity. Two drives and baskets by Latasha Prather pushed the lead to 21-10. Sydney Bukowski, who sat for much of the first half, asserted herself in the second half.
She scored four of her seven points in the quarter, but also blocked the first of her four blocked shots.
Sydney Frank, a senior forward, also scored four points in the quarter. “We started out a little slower, had to get going, but once we did, we kind of just got on a roll,” Frank said. “We talked at halftime, we just kind of had a feeling, we knew we were going to take it.”
The lead jumped to 25-13 and Towson called timeout. It was Frank’s second basket of the quarter, on a nice feed from Moriah Snyder, that gave the Mustangs a 27-13 lead with one quarter to play.
The final quarter was more than three minutes old before Towson’s Erin Steinberg nailed a three-point shot.
A couple of minutes later, it was Taylor Marchetti, who answered with a three that was the dagger, doubling the lead over the Generals, 32-16, with 2:35 left.
Steinberg (seven points) added Towson’s final basket and Snyder (11 points) added CMW’s.
“It’s amazing, we haven’t done this as a school since ‘96, we looked it up,” Frank said. “This is great.”
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