Maryland 4A Girls' Basketball Semifinals

Blake Tops Linganore, 61-53, in Maryland 4A Girls' Semifinal

Blake's Faye Dunston shoots over the outstretched arms of Linganore's Jessica Musselman.
Blake's Faye Dunston shoots over the outstretched arms of Linganore's Jessica Musselman. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
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By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 13, 2009

CATONSVILLE, Md., March 12 -- Danielle Douglas and her Blake teammates were already looking ahead to Saturday's Maryland 4A final midway through their 61-53 semifinal victory over Linganore, and it was hard to blame them. The Bengals will get a third chance at their state tournament nemesis, and this time, Douglas said, they are better prepared.

No. 18 Blake took a 20-point second-quarter lead against Linganore, and, after relaxing a bit in the second half as the margin shrunk to single digits, pulled away to earn a title shot against four-time defending champion Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 2007, the Bengals lost to the Raiders in the final. Last year, Roosevelt beat them in the semifinals. Both games were decided by double figures. Douglas said Blake spent this season learning how to handle a quick, physical style like Roosevelt's that gave the Bengals fits the past two seasons.

"Losing to them twice, it gives us more motivation to beat them," Douglas said. "I think we're ready for it."

Before it could plan for Roosevelt, Blake knew it needed to run Linganore ragged at UMBC's RAC Arena. Not only did that pace favor the Bengals, who thrive in the open court and score easily in transition, it also effectively took Linganore's 6-foot-3 center Samantha Buls out of the game by eliminating many half-court sets.

"We told our kids we wanted to make it an up-tempo game," Blake Coach Patti Gilmore said. "It's a bigger floor [college floors are 10 feet longer than high school courts]. If you're a post player, that's tough."

After senior Corinne Glover's back-door layup cut Blake's lead to 17-14 with just more than three minutes left in the first quarter, Linganore would manage only one field goal over the next 9 1/2 minutes. The Lancers did not score in second quarter until Kelsey Quinn's layup 1 minute 24 seconds before halftime.

"They came out strong and really pushed us," Glover said.

Meantime, Douglas used her hounding ball pressure and slick driving to guide Blake (20-7) on a 20-3 run. She scored eight of her game-high 23 points during that spurt to give the Bengals a 37-17 lead.

Linganore (19-7), though, took advantage of Blake's sloppiness in the second half -- 15 turnovers -- by going with a small lineup. After trailing 50-34 with less than a minute to go in the third quarter, the Lancers went on a 17-5 run, capped by a baseline jumper by Glover with 3:20 left to cut the Blake lead to 55-51.

Christine Weithman converted a beautiful left-handed layup a minute later as part of a three-point play and Linganore never came closer.

No. 18 Blake 61, Linganore 53 Up Next: Blake will play No. 2 Eleanor Roosevelt (23-1) tomorrow at 3 p.m. at UMBC's RAC Arena for the Maryland 4A title. Keep the Pace: Blake scored 25 first-quarter points, but only 24 in the second half.

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