Washington Catholic Athletic Conference

Good Counsel to Face Holy Cross in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Girls' Basketball Title Game

Elizabeth Seton's Julia Weatherly, left, gets a steal from Holy Cross's Natasha Thames. Holy Cross squeaked by Sunday to face Good Counsel.
Elizabeth Seton's Julia Weatherly, left, gets a steal from Holy Cross's Natasha Thames. Holy Cross squeaked by Sunday to face Good Counsel. (By Joel Richardson For The Washington Post)
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By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 5, 2009

Whichever team wins tonight's Washington Catholic Athletic Conference girls' basketball championship game will head into Monday's City Title Game with a world of confidence.

No. 5 Good Counsel advanced to the final with a 66-49 semifinal victory over Bishop McNamara, the Falcons' 18th straight triumph. At 6 tonight in American University's Bender Arena, they will face Holy Cross, riding a similarly hot streak. The 16th-ranked Tartans slipped by No. 18 Elizabeth Seton, 46-44, on a last-second putback by Natasha Thames in the second of Sunday's semifinals.

Sunday's victory pushed Holy Cross's winning streak to 12 games, a stretch that began after the Tartans lost to Good Counsel, 48-41, on Jan. 23. Tabbing it "a heck of a ride," Holy Cross Coach Russell Davis said his young team has improved dramatically since starting the season 4-6.

Yet the key to the Tartans' victories over Seton, not only Sunday but also in two regular-season meetings, has been their effective full-court pressure, particularly when they have turned it up in the second half. That might not work as well against Good Counsel.

The Falcons did a fantastic job breaking McNamara's pressure Sunday. Good Counsel committed only one first-half turnover, as it scored 19 of the game's first 22 points to seize control. Good Counsel has several capable ballhandlers, including seniors Katie Sheahin and Symone Lyles and sophomore Gillian Abshire, to avoid heaping all the responsibility of breaking the pressure on one player.

"We play entirely different styles," Good Counsel Coach Tom Sheahin said of Seton, although that also pertains to Holy Cross. "We had to play smart and quick."

Tonight's game will reinforce the changing of the guard at the top of the WCAC. Seton, McNamara and St. John's dominated the league from the late 1990s through the early part of this decade. But Good Counsel claimed consecutive titles in 2005 and '06, ending a 10-year title drought, and Holy Cross followed it in 2007 with its first championship. In all three years, the WCAC champion went on to win the City Title.

Whichever team comes out this year will face the defending city champion, No. 8 H.D. Woodson, which is also on a roll, winning 10 straight.

"This is Number 1 versus Number 2," Davis said of the conference foes. "This is what it should be."

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