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South River washes away Pats' 4A hopes

March 11, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

BALTIMORE - With the shot clock winding down on the first possession of the fourth quarter, South River point guard Stacy Hunt - already standing 22 feet away from the basket - stepped back another three feet and launched a towering 3-point attempt over Thomas Johnson's defense.

Swish.

That one play all but summarized Thursday's Maryland Class 4A girls basketball semifinal.

Hunt scored 27 points, including five 3-pointers, and South River's hot shooting, combined with the Patriots' early offensive struggles, led to TJ's season coming to a close with a disappointing 58-49 loss at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

"It seemed like every time we got back in the game, somebody hit a clutch shot that put them back up," Patriots coach Amy Schmuck said.

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Thomas Johnson (20-6) trailed by as many as 15 points after Kim Milligan scored the first four points of the second half to give South River (21-5) a 31-16 lead. But Nia Josiah's 3-pointer at the 5:25 mark of the third quarter - her first points of the game - sparked the Patriots on a 14-3 run.

Kem Wilson, who led TJ with 21 points, had six in the run and capped it with a 3 with 1:10 left in the quarter to make it 34-30.

"I thought we were going to win when we were down by four," Wilson said. "But they were still hot, especially (Hunt). They kept hitting shots. I feel as though we could have gone further than we did. We have the talent, it just wasn't meant to be."

Hunt answered Wilson's 3 with one of her own 18 seconds later, and her long-range bomb to start the fourth quarter seemed to deflate the Patriots.

"She's a good player," Wilson said. "She could shoot and she could penetrate. This was her game."

South River made 10 of 12 foul shots in the fourth to salt away the victory. The Seahawks made 19 of 26 free throws overall, compared to TJ's 9-for-21 effort.

"We've never been this far so the girls haven't experienced anything of the sort," said Schmuck, who guided the Patriots to the state semifinals for the first time since 1990. "I think nerves stepped in, because I was feeling them. Nerves hit everybody, players and coaches. Just being here for the first time puts pressure on everybody."

The Patriots struggled mightily with their shooting in the first quarter, making just 2 of 16 shots while falling behind, 14-5. Hunt's first 3 of the game got South River on the scoreboard and Ali Moreland scored the Seahawks' next nine points on three jumpers and a 3-pointer to make it 12-4.

"We've played teams like Linganore where we were down 18 at halftime (and came back)," Josiah said. "But it seemed like the entire time we were playing catch-up, and that was frustrating. It seemed inside and outside, everything was falling for them."

Josiah finished with 10 points for TJ, which graduates only one senior - Erin Dickman, who scored six points.

"I feel so proud of this team," Josiah said. "The people you see on the floor this year are the people we have back next year, and that gives us confidence."

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