It was hard not to be dazzled by Milford Mill's flashy senior guard, Mandi Clark, when the Baltimore County school took on No. 4 Largo last night at the 27th annual International Association of Approved Basketball Officials Christmas tournament at Prince George's Community College.
Clark scored 38 points--seven shy of the tournament's single-game record--on an array of outside shots and drives, but in the end, it was the Lions' balanced attack that earned them the 79-69 victory.
Largo (8-1) will face No. 8 Bullis, which got a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds from 6-foot forward Monique Currie to beat Madison, 73-38, in a semifinal at 8 tonight.
"We knew that [Clark] was a great ballplayer, but we are a well-balanced team," Largo Coach Bob Blair said. "We have speed, depth and height. Our girls are veteran girls. We had a little more balance. Our team played with a lot of confidence and poise, and we didn't let one person beat us."
The game was delayed 40 minutes because Milford Mill's bus was stuck in traffic. The delay hardly seemed to matter, as the teams combined to score 43 points in the first quarter.
Clark, who is considered to be among the country's top high school players, made six three-pointers, three of which came from two steps beyond the three-point arc. But every time the 5-8 guard came up with a spectacular play, Largo answered. Four Lions combined to make nine three-point shots, led by three apiece from seniors Adrienne Harris and Tamara Barnes.
Senior Candace Sutton, a 6-5 center who has signed with North Carolina, led the Lions with 23 points and 14 rebounds. She had a five-inch height advantage over Milford Mill's tallest player, and used it well.
"I knew that I had the mismatch inside," Sutton said. "We wanted to pound it inside and take it to them. But our key to the game was that we worked as a team. That definitely came through at the end."
Note: No. 10 DuVal (3-1), which got 15 points apiece from seniors Chinny Nwagbo and Lynette Clark, two starters on last year's Maryland 3A state championship team, defeated Woodbridge, 44-35. DuVal will play No. 3 Riverdale Baptist (11-0), a 65-48 winner over John Carroll, in the other semifinal at 6 p.m. Ten Riverdale players scored, led by senior point guard Terrelle Waller's 15 points.
CAPTION: Bullis's Monique Currie tries to drive around Madison's Rachel Ruddock. Currie had game-high 28 points, 11 rebounds in 73-38 victory.