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Lancers press to no avail


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2003

BRADENTON -- The Cambridge School relies heavily on its pressure defense to win ballgames.

So far this season, the formula has worked to perfection for the Lancers.

But Monday, the Lancers' defense was no match for Class No. 3 Bradenton Christian (23-2) as Cambridge (26-3) dropped its third game of the season 61-55.

"We live and die by the press," Cambridge coach Karim Norah said. "If we go to state, we're going to press and press and press. That is our character and it isn't going to change because of (Bradenton Christian's Jessica) Magley or anybody else.

"If somebody can handle (our press), we'll probably die."

All-state selection Magley controlled the game with her ballhandling and presence in the post.

Magley scored 27 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, anchoring the Panthers offense as it committed just four turnovers in the fourth quarter. Magley was also 4-of-5 at the free-throw line in the final quarter.

"They knew we were going to press them, and they had it covered," Norah said. "And I'll be honest, Magley is just a stud inside. We have to find a way to stop her if we play them again."

Magley had 11 points in the first quarter as Bradenton Christian took a five-point lead. The margin remained at five, 28-23, at the half, aided in large part by Bradenton Christian's rebounding edge. The Panthers outrebounded the Lancers 36-20 for the game.

"I thought we came out tentative early in the game, and it showed," Norah said.

Trailing by as many as 12 in the fourth, Cambridge's press came alive as Betsy Brown's three-point play cut the lead to 56-51. Behind four more points from Brown, Cambridge got as close as 59-55, but the Lancers never overtook the Panthers, who advance to Thursday's Bay Conference championship game.

"We had a chance in the third quarter," Norah said. "It was four for a long time. We just couldn't get over that hump."

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