A year ago, a 20-point lead over Bladensburg's girls basketball team might not have been enough, but this season, with a new coach and without three starters from last season's state semifinal team, the experience and talent isn't there to make many fourth-period comebacks.

Yesterday afternoon, trailing a taller and more-experienced Friendly team, 55-31, after three periods, the Mustangs went on to lose, 67-35, to the second-ranked Patriots at Friendly.

Friendly (1-0) began the game turning the ball over and missing more shots than Bladensburg (1-1), but the difference in the early going that ultimately worked to the Patriots' advantage was that they controlled both the rebounds and, with a tough diamond-and-one defense, set the tempo of the game.

Friendly eventually settled down and began to work the ball inside to 5-foot-11 senior forward/center Latonya McConico (23 points, 19 rebounds), while Bladensburg, with only two scoring threats -- Karen Chrisp (12 points) and Sherri Wimbush (seven points) -- continued to commit turnovers and take bad shots from behind the three-point line.

Leading by only two, 14-12, after the first period, the Patriots, with McConico (10 second-period points) scoring off soft turnaround shots from the lane, built a 35-25 lead at halftime.

"We were nervous in the beginning and were missing a lot of easy shots," said Friendly Coach Bob Lane.

The Patriots showed what they could do in the third period, attacking Bladensburg's back court with strong defensive pressure. Friendly got 10 points off Mustangs turnovers and outscored Bladensburg, 20-6, in the period for the 55-31 lead.

During the third-period run, McConico, Lisa Butler (eight points) and 6-foot sophomore center Patrice Amos (nine points, 10 rebounds) were major contributors.

Afterward, Bladensburg's Chrisp said, "We have a new group this year and they are depending on me to do a lot. There's a lot of pressure on me and Sherri {Wimbush}. They {the rest of the team} look to us to shoot everything, and they don't depend on themselves. But if we play as a team, we'll be there."