By Alan Goldenbach and Greg Schimmel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 11, 2011; 12:22 AM
CATONSVILLE, MD. - Frederick assured itself of its best season Thursday night, but the Cadets can make it just a little better - by bringing home the school's first girls' basketball championship.
Behind 16 points apiece from Rachel Johnson and Lauren Tolson and 15 from Lynasia Frazier, the 18th-ranked Cadets used their harassing pressure and superior open-court play to hold off No. 19 Howard, 61-56, in the Maryland 3A semifinals at UMBC's RAC Arena.
The Cadets (21-4) advanced to their first state final, after falling in their four previous semifinal appearances. They will meet Aberdeen, which knocked off No. 6 Largo in the evening's first semifinal.
Frederick, which has won eight consecutive games, forced Howard into a much faster game than the Lions would have preferred. Howard thrived in the regular season and playoffs by slowing the tempo and letting its half-court defense stymie opponents. Frederick seldom gave Howard the opportunity to do that.
"We were running, working them, pushing them and getting them running," Tolson said.
Frederick never trailed and took control of the game midway through the first quarter when the Cadets forced Howard to turn the ball over on eight consecutive possessions. That allowed Frederick to reel off 10 consecutive points to take a 14-2 lead. Howard did not come closer than five the rest of the way.
l ABERDEEN 73, LARGO 62: The eighth-ranked Lions hadn't lost in more than two months, but they also hadn't faced Bri Jones.
Aberdeen's 6-foot-3 sophomore center dominated the first Maryland 3A state semifinal at UMBC's RAC Arena, and Largo (25-2) simply didn't have anybody big enough to defend her in the paint.
Jones finished with a career-high 35 points and 17 rebounds, and Aberdeen (23-1) advanced to its first state final since 2003.
Largo - whose tallest player is listed at 5-11 - had its 18-game winning streak snapped, and was denied a spot in what would have been its first state title game since winning the 3A championship in 2007.
"We expected this to be our year," Largo senior guard Brittany Taylor said.
Jones scored 21 points in the first half, including 12 in the second quarter when Aberdeen established control and built a 37-26 lead at halftime.
Largo tried fronting her in the post, but Jones still got the ball and also scored on several putbacks and in transition.
"Even though I was taller it was hard because they were pushing," Jones said. "It was a little struggle but I made it work."