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Rockville crumbles under Walkersville's defense

March 02, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

WALKERSVILLE, Md. - Rockville would probably like to file a harassment charge against Walkersville, just like the Lions' previous 22 victims from the regular season.

The Rams jumped off the bus from Montgomery County and immediately ran into the defensive-minded Lions as Walkersville opened defense of its Maryland Class 2A state championship with a 43-20 victory in the West region quarterfinals.

The top-ranked Lions (23-0) threw double- and triple-team traps all over the floor that forced 37 Rockville turnovers, 23 in the opening half. Those numbers helped offset a lackluster shooting performance of 15 of 53 for 29 percent.

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"Our defense is what we have relied on all year ... that's what wins basketball games," Walkersville coach Mike Mathis said after the Lions' 43rd consecutive victory.

Rockville (9-14) won the opening tip and immediately turned over the basketball, allowing Gina Casadei hit to score in the first few seconds for a 2-0 lead.

Only Walkersville's 2 of 13 shooting held the Lions to a 7-2 after the first period. Rockville committed 11 turnovers and hit its first of three first-half goals at the 4-minute mark.

A dozen additional turnovers later, the Lions stretched their lead to 19-6 at halftime, 15 comng off Rockville miscues. However, Mathis was in some discomfort around the offensive woes.

"We weren't pretty and I just talked to them about being more patient in the second half," Mathis said. "We weren't swinging the ball around in the first half. I told Chelsea (Trout) and D.J. (Vernoy) they had to pick it up."

Trout, held to a pair of first-half points, hit early 3-pointers from the left wing and top of the key to get untracked on the way to a game-high 14 points.

Trout, as one of Walkersville's 11 players that experienced the state championship buzz last year, wasn't too pleased with the early results.

"I don't think we were mentally ready and I think they surprised us with their intensity," Trout said. "At halftime I just sat in silence and knew I had to step up in the second half."

Walkersville's margin finally hit 20 points with 2:38 remaining in the third period on a pair of free throws by Trout.

"We have the expectation that if we play our game, we can win the state again," said Trout.

Emily Lancaster led the Lions on the boards with 10 and scored seven points, while Vernoy had seven rebounds. Katie Brooder, saddled two early fouls, paced the Rams with seven.

"We've been at this since Nov. 15," Mathis said. "The tournament is a new season. There's no room for complacency. We have another day ahead of us."

That day is Wednesday as the Lions will travel to South Carroll, a last-second 55-53 winner over Fort Hill. Walkersville defeated South Carroll twice during the regular season.

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