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North girls let freedom ring

March 04, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

A year ago, North Hagerstown's girls basketball team entered the Maryland Class 2A West playoffs with a 20-2 record and a first-round bye. The Hubs were then upset 58-56 in overtime by Clarksburg in the quarterfinals.

This year, with North once again 20-2 and hosting Tuesday's 2A West quarterfinal against Liberty following a first-round bye, the Hubs had to shake that déjà vu feeling.

It took eight minutes.

Senior Kirksten Mitchell scored 10 of her 18 points in the first quarter and North made five 3-pointers in the opening period to race to a 30-15 lead on the way to a convincing 72-48 victory over the Lions.

"Last year, we were too confident in ourselves. We started getting to the cocky point," said Mitchell, who added five rebounds and four assists. "Now we're just playing one game at a time. We're not taking plays off, we're going hard. This team is way different from last year."

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"This to us was just another game," Hubs coach Barry Brown said. "These kids have shown up game after game ready to play, and the worst thing we could have done tonight was change a thing. We did exactly what we wanted to do against a very fine Liberty team that has been just super the second half of the season."

North (21-2) took control with a 14-0 run covering just 80 seconds. Mitchell sparked and finished the run with two of her four 3-pointers, and Kishia Jackson hit the first of her three 3s. The Hubs finished with nine 3s in the game.

"Every time I start off (fast), they're like, they all hop on and we just start going on a rage and scoring and playing 'D,'" Mitchell said. "It sets the tone for the team."

"We ran our offense the way we've been running it all year," Brown said. "We've broken out with quarters over 30 points before and we did it again tonight. We had a great first quarter."

The lead stretched to as many as 20 points in the second quarter. The Hubs took a 41-26 advantage into halftime, before Liberty (14-9) scored the first six points of the second half to cut the lead to nine.

Undaunted, North went to LaRae Allen inside, and the senior scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the second half. The Hubs finished the third quarter on a 16-4 run to take a 62-39 lead.

"I felt we needed to make a run, and I tried to help my team out," said Allen, who also had six rebounds and four blocks.

"I think I have some pretty smart basketball players," Brown said. "I don't have to tell them what to do all the time, but I think they knew what I wanted at that point. The nice thing about having mature players on the team is there comes a time you have to settle down and play good basketball, and that's what we did at that point."

The Hubs never really got into their transition game, yet still managed to make 26 of 59 shots (44 percent), with the 3-point shooting and Allen's play inside making the difference. Liberty was held to 19 of 67 shooting (28 percent) and the Lions had numerous shots blocked or altered by North's length.

"Kirksten, I can't say enough about her. I thought she did a super job," Brown said. "LaRae picked it up in the second half, and geez, as a coach, how could I ask for anything more?"

North will host the Clarksburg-Walkersville winner Thursday at 7 p.m. in the 2A West semifinals.

North Hagerstown 72, Liberty 48
LIBERTY (14-9)

M. McCormick 12, K. McCormick 8, Skidmore 14, Nemecek 7, Karr 5, Tomlin 2. Totals 19 8-9 48.
NORTH HAGERSTOWN (21-2)
Koterwas 3, Mitchell 18, Gantt 5, Jackson 9, Scott 8, Carter 4, Allen 19, Forrest 4, Osongo 2. Totals 26 11-21 72.
Liberty 15 11 13 9 -- 48
N. Hagerstown 30 11 21 10 -- 72

3-point goals -- Liberty 2 (Skidmore, Karr), North 9 (Mitchell 4, Jackson 3, Scott 2). Fouled out -- Marlatt.

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