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Playoffs mean Knights time

Middletown upsets Lions in 2A West

Middletown upsets Lions in 2A West

February 28, 2002|By DAN SPEARS

WALKERSVILLE, Md. - It's been a weird season for the Middletown girls basketball team. The Knights suffered upset losses, got beat three times by archrival Walkersville, played without their coach for almost a month, had more injuries and missed games than anyone could count.

But when the postseason arrived, the Knights reverted to form.

Wednesday night in the Class 2A West semifinals, Middletown played like Middletown teams of the past, fending off every Walkersville challenge and making big plays down the stretch to finally beat the top-seeded Lions, 46-44.

"It's about time," coach Kara Nelson said in mock exasperation. "We've had a crazy season, but they came out and executed the gameplan we set for them. I'm so proud of them."

The Knights (17-7) used their playbook well, but guard Brynnie Mannis played like she had a copy of Walkersville's as well. Mannis scored a career-high 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting and handcuffed Walkersville guard Chelsea Trout on defense.

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She made the play of the game with 2:30 to play. With Middletown leading 42-41, Mannis tipped a pass headed for Trout. Teammate Dani Summers got the loose ball and fed it to Mannis in transition for a 44-41 game.

"We came out to fight tonight," said Mannis, who didn't crack the starting lineup until the 20th game of the season. "Things this year have just been mixed up. But we thought if we played our best tonight, well, we just had a feeling."

It wasn't echoed in the Walkersville camp. The Lions (21-3) finally thought this was their year after winning their first Monocacy Valley Athletic League title and getting an upper hand in the series with the Knights.

But halting a string of postseason disappointments will have to be taken care of in 2003.

"Our kids have responded all year," Walkersville coach Mike Mathis said. "We did it Monday night. ... We just keep coming at you, but tonight we didn't have the knockout punch."

Walkersville led 37-36 after three quarters of a back-and-forth game. Then, the Lions' ball pressure in the frontcourt and Middletown's size advantage in the post turned the game into a street war.

The teams struggled down the stretch, but every time the Knights needed a lift, Mannis was there. Her dribble drive with 3:16 to play gave them the lead and set up her steal and bucket less than a minute later.

"She played great," Nelson said. "She played well defensively and that led to her offense being so strong."

The lead pushed to 46-41 before Walkersville's Kelly Schultz hit a circus shot in the lane and was fouled. Her free throw made it 46-44 with 35.6 seconds to play and two missed free throws set up a chance to tie for the Lions.

The Lions got a good shot, as D.J. Vernoy beat her defender for a straight-on 12-footer, but the shot hit just long and caromed off the rim into the hands of four players for a jump ball with .9 seconds left. Middletown got the arrow, inbounded and celebrated.

"We played our hearts out tonight," Nelson said. "We just beat a very good team."

The Knights advance to Friday's region final, and they'll play Hammond at home at 7. The Lions, meawhile, will go to another region final as spectators.

"I told the girls to be upset because they lost the game, but not about this year," Mathis said. "I'm not ashamed we lost. They were four great games (with Middletown). They just scored two more points than we did this time."




Middletown 46, Walkersville 44

MIDDLETOWN (46)

House 2, Summers 6, Mannis 22, Moore 3, Pfau 2, Costello 11. Totals 15-40 13-23 46.

WALKERSVILLE (44)

Vernoy 4, Casadei 10, Trout 8, Harrison 10, Hessler 2, Lancaster 3, Schultz 7. Totals 18-42 7-14 44.

Middletown1414810-46

Walkersville178127-44

Three-point goals-Walkersville 1 (Vernoy), Middletown 3 (Mannis 3).

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