Holy Cross extended its girls basketball winning streak to 63 games last night, beating Ballou, 46-44, to move to tonight's final of the IAABO tournament at Springbrook.

Paint Branch, at 46-37 winner over Holy Names, will face Holy Cross in the 8 p.m. final, in which the No. 1 ranked Tartans will shoot for their fifth straight tournament title. Ballou meets Holy Names in the consolation match.

Six-foot-two Karen Elsner scored a game-high 21 points, including the winning points with 17 seconds to play, for Holy Cross.

"No question it was a tight game," said Tartan Coach Bill Sheahan, whose team's winning streak extends back two seasons. "We set up a play ( a Jackie Israel feed to Elsner) and it worked for us."

Holy Cross led by as much as nine points three times in the game after its slight half-time advantage, 25-22. Down 39-30 in the final quarter. Ballou came back with consecutive baskets by Tisa Howard and Paris McWhirter (17 points) and Michelle Dyer to move within 39-36 with 4:05 to play.

Two clean free throws by McWhirler tied the game 44-44, with 33 seconds on the clock, but Elsner's shot won the game for the Tartans.

Nancy Archer and Suzanne McHugh scored 13 points apiece in leading Paint Branch over Holy Names. It was the second tournament win over an unbeaten team for Paint Branch, which beat Lackey in the first round.

Paint Branch took a 28-16 halftime lead. Holy Names led only once in the game, 10-9, with 1:30 left in the first quarter. Two baskets by McHugh and another by Vickie Thomas put Paint Branch ahead for good at the end of the quarter.

Thomas' foul shot opened the second period for Paint Branch, but Holy Names came back with five points, three on foul shots, to close in, 16-15. Paint Branch, however, limited Holy Names to a single free throw by Ellen Duchesne in the last four minutes of the half and reeled off nine straight points to go ahead, 27-16.

Paint Branch held the Owls to eight third-quarter points to end the period, 38-22, for its biggest lead of the game. A fourth-quarter three-point play by Terry Davis helped get Holy Names back in the game, 43-33, but a basket by McHugh and a Shelley Nutall foul shot kept the Panthers in control.

At the Blair Tournament, Wendy Jackson hit two free throws with 1:39 left to give Blair a 56-55 win over Woodward. In the tournament's other game, Andrea Burton scored 24 points to lead Sherwood to a 55-31 win over Walter Johnson.

In the Poolesville Tournament, Phyllis Talley scored 19 points and Teresa Dorsey 18 as Pollesville edged Prospect Hall, 41-37. Jane Boswell scored 13 points and Nancy White scored 12 to lead Damascus to a 37-30 win over Linganore.