Churchill's Marlena Phillips has heard all season from Coach Aubree Lawrence to be a little more aggressive with the ball. The sophomore forward can't count the times she's been told not to be afraid to shoot.
Phillips had no choice, though, when she stepped to the free throw line with the Bulldogs trailing by one with 2.2 seconds left in overtime last night at Damascus. With Churchill's season hanging in the balance, Phillips, who entered the game having made only 38 percent of her free throws this season, swished both attempts to gave the Bulldogs a 67-66 victory in the Maryland 4A West Region quarterfinals.
Lawrence "is always like, 'Take it strong, take the contact,' " said Phillips, who matched her season high of 12 points.
Churchill (16-7) erased a nine-point third-quarter deficit and a four-point Damascus edge in overtime. Sisters Angela and Lea Biciocchi scored 26 of their combined 28 points after halftime, as leading scorer Carole Dempsey struggled with foul trouble in the second half.
Lea Biciocchi's 18-foot jumper with 5 minutes 28 seconds left in regulation made it 49-49. Angela Biciocchi's two free throws with 2:33 left gave Churchill its first lead, 54-52, and Lea's three-pointer 44 seconds later extended the margin to four.
But Damascus (15-6) sent it to overtime by making four free throws in the final minute, and Kailee May scored five points in overtime to give the Hornets held a 64-60 lead with less than a minute to go in overtime.
But Lea Biciocchi hit a three-pointer, and Dempsey's layup with 19 seconds left gave Churchill a 65-64 lead. Jacquelyn Adcock drew a foul with nine seconds left and sank two free throws to put Damascus back ahead.
Churchill pushed the ball upcourt to Angela Biciocchi, who took a baseline jumper. Phillips corralled the rebound, went up and drew a foul. "I've always had confidence in Marlena," Lawrence said. "It's just Marlena figuring out what she's capable of."
Maryland 4A West Quarterfinals
Churchill 67, Damascus 66
On the Rebound:After starting the season 12-2, Churchill lost five of its next six. The Bulldogs have now won three straight.
Up Next:Churchill will visit Whitman, a 59-47 winner over Quince Orchard, in tomorrow's 4A West semifinals. Whitman won the teams' regular season meeting, 63-42.