Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Knights’ long-range gunners catch Cavs

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While the Century High girls basketball team already had a win over South Carroll using a massive first quarter effort, the Knights needed a near-impossible fourth quarter run to beat the visiting Cavaliers 46-45 on Tuesday.

Century trailed by as much as 13 points and didn’t have a lead until there was only seven seconds left to play.

Everything was fairly out of reach for the Knights until Stef McLallen hit two 3-pointers from the exact same spot, halfway between the Century bench and the free throw line.

‘‘I practice from everywhere. But I like it when girls run at me,” McLallen said. ‘‘If I had a spot, it’d probably be right there.”

McLallen finished with a team-high 18 points. Immediately after her twin 3-pointers, she was given a man-to-man defensive treatment from Brigid McTavish, who stopped all further long-range attempts, but couldn’t stop one last jumper to make it a 43-38 game.

With McLallen’s shot dialed in, the other Knights were trying to set up another attack from her. But with the shot clock running out, Katie Schwarzmann sent in a 3-pointer from beyond the NBA distance.

‘‘The clock was ticking and I got a little nervous, so I just shot it,” Schwarzmann said.

The shot capped off a 13-4 run from the Knights, catapulting them back into contention. South Carroll’s Kelsey Franklin did what she could to dissuade Century, drilling in two free throws to finish with 21 points.

But Schwarzmann found more luck from the 3-point line. While her second attempt didn’t even hit the rim, the shot sailed to an open Megan Spencer on the rebound for the ‘‘assist.” Spencer made a shot and was taken to the floor with a foul. She pumped her fist in excitement before getting up. The and-one gave the Knights within a point with 48 seconds left.

The Knights then forced a turnover from a charging call. It set up their only lead of the night, with a fairly open Nicole Ruane dropping it home from just inside McLallen’s favored spot on the 3-point line.

‘‘We needed this so much, because we need a perfect county record so that when we play Winters Mill, if we beat them, we’ll be tied for county champs,” McLallen said.

Century’s first win last month over its Liberty Road rivals was punctuated with a 16-1 first quarter—the worst performance by South Carroll this year. The Cavaliers returned the favor, holding Century to only six points for their second-worst first quarter of the year.

‘‘We just weren’t clicking in the first half,” McLallen said. ‘‘We didn’t have our game faces on. We didn’t get going until all the way into the third quarter, and that’s not good. We can’t do that against good teams.”

South Carroll head coach Liz Shannon didn’t look at anything from the first match-up in preparing for the rematch.

‘‘I knew [we] were fired up,” Shannon said. ‘‘[Our players] wanted to show them that we were better than what they saw the first game. I think for 31 minutes we showed them.”

South Carroll (10-7, 4-5 Carroll County) outscored Century in each of the first three quarters. Cyndi Scurci finished with 11 points.

‘‘They’re always a great game,” Shannon said. ‘‘Both teams played hard. It was exciting to coach, it was exciting to watch.”