By Jack Creegan and Daniel Fama
LARGO, MD -- In a highly anticipated Maryland Juco Conference Women's Basketball semifinal, the No. 1 seed Harford Fighting Owls today defeated the No. 4 seed Cecil Seahawks 81-64 in front of a Harford heavy crowd at Prince George's Community College.
The Fighting Owls will face Baltimore City tomorrow in the finals at noon, in search of their fourth consecutive conference tournament title.
A competitive first quarter saw both teams shoot 33.3% from the floor.
The Fighting Owls were aggressive in the quarter, going 4-14 from three-point range. Harford'sTianna Swearinger lead the way for Harford, going 3-3 from deep and scoring 13 points to lead all scorers going into the second quarter.
The Seahawks were more efficient from three-point range, converting on 3-4, two of which came from the hand of Kearah Henry.
While Harford relied heavily on perimeter shooting, Cecil forced their way to the line and went 6-10.
Behind Swearingers impressive start, the Fighting Owls took a 20-19 lead heading into the second quarter.
Second quarter action did not disappoint, as the Fighting Owls and Seahawks traded shoots.
The Seahawks benefited from plenty of second chance opportunities, owning the offensive boards with 18 first half rebounds.
Haford put more emphasis on working inside in the second quarter, attempting just four three-pointers (making two).
Top performers of the half included Harford's hot-handed Swearinger and Cecil's Garvin.
Every shoot seemed to fall for Swearinger, who was 5-6 from the foor, 4-4 from three-point range, and 2-2 at the line.
Garvin contributed a well-rounded performance for Cecil with four rebounds, three assists, one steal and 10 points on 3-4 shooting.
The half featured five ties and six lead changes, with Harford leading 38-37.
Cecil did not start off the second half with the same frantic pace as they did in the first.
Harford went on a tear to start the third quarter, as Tianna Swearinger continuing her impressive start by knocking down multiple big shots.
A steal on an inbound, followed up by a difficult layup from Adrienne Jones put the Fighting Owls up 10 with 7:30 left in the quarter.
Shortly after, Jones hit another acrobatic layup that brought the crowd to its feet and the Fighting Owls lead to 14.
"Our intensity and getting defensive stops were the keys today," Jones said. "In the second half we ran the ball and we attacked the rim instead of shooting all the time."
The lead would reach 17 before Cecil recorded its first points in the half, 4:50 into the third quarter.
It proved to be a big quarter for Ryan Holder and Shawnkia McCallum, whose contributions on both sides of the ball sparked the huge run from Harford.
By the end of the quarter, the Fighting Owls' lead was up to 19.
"We started getting defensive stops and finishing offensive possessions in the third quarter," said Harford head coach Mike Seney. "That was the turning point of the game."
Harford continued to dominate early in the fourth quarter.
Holder remained both a force on defense and on the boards. She finished with eight points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists.
The Seahawks implemented a full court press with roughly five minutes to go that sparked an 11-1 run.
Unfortunately, it was too little too late and the deficit never went below 14.
Despite being outrebounded 71-58, Harford never lost control of the game.
Cecil struggled all afternoon to break through a tough Harford defense, converting just 22.6% of their shots. The Seahawks scored just 13 points off of 20 turnovers, while surrendering 27 points off of 22 turnovers.
Swearinger led all scorers with 20 points on 5-10 shooting, 4-5 from three.
Kearah Henry led the way for the Seahawks with 16 points and seven rebounds and Garvin led the team in minutes, adding 12 points to go along with eight rebounds.
* Philip McCown and Andrew Feminella contributed to this article.