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City limits Hubs' shot

March 13, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

BALTIMORE -- North's Hagerstown's dynamic offense met Baltimore City College's impenetrable defense in the Maryland Class 2A girls basketball state semifinals on Friday evening at University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

City's defense emphatically won.

The Hubs made just 11 of 42 shots, including just 5 of 23 from 3-point range, and committed 23 turnovers as City held North 28 points below its season scoring average in a 59-39 victory.

"They were very physical," North coach Barry Brown said. "They were on a mission today to physically beat us, and we didn't answer that."

City (23-3) will face River Hill (27-0) for the Class 2A state title today at 1 p.m.

LaShay Taft had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead City. Breaira Barksdale added 15 points and six rebounds.

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LaRae Allen had 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks to pace North (23-3). Kirksten Mitchell had nine points and eight rebounds, and Kishia Jackson added seven points.

The Knights took control with an 8-0 run to end the first quarter with a 16-8 lead. City forced the Hubs into 2-for-15 shooting in the opening eight minutes, with many of the misses coming from long range.

"If we shoot the lights out at the beginning from the 3, the game would have been different," Brown said. "But they controlled things inside the arc."

Mitchell did her best to spark North's offense in the first half. She hit the Hubs' only 3 in the first quarter, made another 3 to start the second quarter, and her strong drive to the basket for a three-point play cut City's lead to 18-14 with 6:19 left in the first half.

"She hates to lose and she went out there with a heart as big as you can imagine, as big as humanly possible," Brown said. "She kept us in the game."

But the Knights took control with a 13-4 run over the next four minutes for a 31-18 lead. In one key sequence, Taft nailed a 3 with 4:41 left, only to be answered by Allen, who made a rare 3 of her own from the top of the key nine seconds later to bring the Hubs fans to their feet. Undaunted, Barksdale drilled a 3 nine seconds later to silence those fans.

North trailed 33-23 at halftime after making just 7 of 28 shots, including 3 of 15 from 3-point range.

"We hoped we could start quick in the second half, but it didn't happen," Brown said.

Instead, City's defense just got better.

The Knights held North to just 16 points in the second half -- eight in each quarter -- on 4-for-14 shooting (2-for-8 from 3) with 15 turnovers.

Quielanna Gantt made 1 of 2 free throws to cut the lead to 33-24 with 6:19 left in the third quarter, before Taft's 3 with 5:53 left sparked a 7-0 City run that made it 40-24. North never got closer than 13 points after that.

"They're blessed with athleticism and their guard play is tremendous," Brown said. "It took that level of athleticism from their guards to get us out of our game. Their big girls are wide bodies and they played physical."

The Hubs, 2A West champions and co-MVAL Piedmont champions, were making their first trip to the state semifinals since 1986 -- they won state titles in 1981 and 1985.

"This was just a tremendous experience for our kids. I'm pleased we made it here," Brown said. "I'm going to focus on our season as a whole, not just this one game."

"We had a really good season, and it's a shame it had to end like this," Allen said. "We came out to play, but things happen."

City College 59North Hagerstown 39
BALTIMORE CITY COLLEGE (23-3)

Taft 18, Sewell 6, Williams 4, Barksdale 15, Bell 2, Shropshire 4, Dillard 6, Dawson 4. Totals 24 7-12 59.
NORTH HAGERSTOWN (23-3)
Koterwas 1, Jackson 7, Gantt 3, Allen 11, Mitchell 9, Carter 2, Scott 5, Osongo 1. Totals 11 12-25 39.
City 16 17 13 13 -- 59
North 8 15 8 8 -- 39

3-point goals -- City 4 (Taft 3, Barksdale), North 5 (Mitchell 2, Jackson, Allen Scott). Fouled out -- Sewell.

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