Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
All 6-foot-1 DuVal center Jennifer Martin needed was a quick glance at Catonsville, her team's opponent today in the Maryland 2A semifinals at UMBC. When Martin saw the Comets -- whose starters average just a shade above 5-6 -- she knew her team could dominate inside.
With Martin and forwards Summer Graves and Sherika Thomas patrolling the post, the reigning state champions did just that and eliminated the Comets, 54-44, to advance to the state final for the ninth time in school history.
The fifth-ranked Tigers outrebounded Catonsville, 42-31, and Martin scored a game-high 17 points.
"Before the game, my teammates were telling me, 'Jennifer, this is you, they can't stop you,' " Martin said.
"My coach kept telling me they had no response for me, so I kept posting up down low, and I finished for my teammates."
DuVal, which has won a state-record seven state titles, attempted Saturday to claim the championship for the fourth time in the past five years. The Tigers (21-2) faced Walkersville, which slipped past Aberdeen, 40-37.
DuVal trailed by two points midway through the third quarter, but Martin scored seven points as the Tigers ended the period on a 12-3 run to take a 37-30 lead. Catonsville (16-8) would get no closer.
In the earlier semifinal, No. 13 Walkersville (23-1) survived cold shooting and a three-point fourth quarter to hold off the Eagles (14-12).
The Lions did not make a field goal for the final 11 minutes 13 seconds but made enough plays down the stretch to advance to their first state championship game.
"We weren't shooting very well, so we just decided to go out there and try to get to the free throw line, get every loose ball, box out and get every rebound possible," said junior guard D.J. Vernoy, who played all 32 minutes and had seven points and seven rebounds.
"Thank God we have heart. We just went out and played hard."
With Walkersville clinging to a 39-37 lead, Vernoy lunged for a defensive rebound between several Aberdeen players and drew a foul with 5.6 seconds to play. She made the second of her two free throw attempts to give the Lions a three-point cushion, then forced Aberdeen standout Tameka McDonald (game-high 17 points, four assists) to take an off-balance shot as time expired.
Walkersville, which has won 19 straight games, appeared to be in control with a 35-26 lead late in the fourth quarter. But the Lions, who missed 22 of 27 field goals in the second half, scored just five points the rest of the way.
"We didn't play our best ball, but when you get down here to the state semis, all you want to do is survive," Walkersville Coach Mike Mathis said.
"Hopefully we got our bad game out of us."