The partisan Harford Tech student section proudly displayed a sign Wednesday evening that read “Fear the Strike.”

The spinoff of the University of Maryland’s “Fear the Turtle” slogan proved to be short for fear the 1-2 offensive combination of point guard Amya Goodsell and forward Anyia Gibson and be terrified of the team’s hawkish mix of full court and halfcourt zone defenses as that combination led the Cobras girls basketball team to the Class 2A East Region I championship.

In capturing the program’s first regional title, Harford Tech dethroned defending state champion Fallston, 41-27, and booked a spot in Friday’s 2A state quarterfinals.

“It just feels great to beat them,” Goodsell said. “Last year, we lost to them in regionals and it just feels great to be in our own home and to just be able to beat them. It’s a lot better beating them here because you’re around your whole family, you’re around your whole school. You’re more comfortable on your own court.”

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Harford Tech's Anyia Gibson takes a shot during the MPSSAA High School Girls 2A East Region Playoff Final between the Fallston Cougars and Harford Tech Cobras at Harford Tech High School in Bel Air, Maryland on March 1, 2023. Harford Tech won 41-27. photo by Scott Serio for The Baltimore Banner
Harford Tech's Aniya Gibson (2) takes a shot during Wednesday's Class 2A East Region I title game against Fallston. Gibson finished with 19 points as the Cobras dethroned the Cougars as state champions with a 41-27 victory in Bel Air. (Scott Serio/for the Baltimore Banner)

Goodsell and Gibson looked right at home while making like a rendition of the Hall of Fame combination of former Utah Jazz greats John Stockon and Karl Marlone through numerous pick-and-rolls and fastbreak layups, combining for 35 of the team’s 41 points, including 22 of 26 in the decisive second half that saw the Cobras (19-4 overall) turn a 15-14 halftime lead into the final 14-point advantage.

“The game plan is the pick and roll,” said Gibson, who finished with a game-high 19 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. “That’s our main thing: pick-and-roll action. When we spread out, they always ball-watch, so it’s easy to get the ball moving (and) they’re slow in transition.”

While Gibson did most of her damage on the low block or in transition, Goodsell torched the Fallston man defense for 16 points on a pair of 3-pointers, a handful of jump shots, and an occasional dribble drive to the basket. The sophomore point guard also helped neutralize the Cougars’ fullcourt press with her ball handling in traffic and dishes to Gibson for transition layups. Goodsell also added seven rebounds, mainly on the defensive end.

Harford TechÕs Sarah Hunt tries to pull away from FallstonÕs Maddy Burns for a loose ball during the MPSSAA High School Girls 2A East Region Playoff Final between the Fallston Cougars and Harford Tech Cobras at Harford Tech High School in Bel Air, Maryland on March 1, 2023. Harford Tech won 41-27.
Harford Tech's Sarah Hunt tries to pull away from Fallston's Maddy Burns for a loose ball during Wednesday's Class 2A East Region I final. (Scott Serio/for the Baltimore Banner)

“We realized that they really didn’t have a point guard, so we pressured them a lot and then we also shut down their shooter that had troubled us in games before,” said Goodsell of Fallston’s Lindsey Dettloff, who was shutout Wednesday night. “And just recognizing where (Ayla Galloway) is because that’s their two main threats.”

On the other end of the court, the Cobras pressured and harassed the Cougars (17-5) into 23 turnovers and held them under double digits in the final three quarters of action after falling behind 11-6 in the opening eight minutes. Fallston, in fact, did not score a field goal in the second quarter and just four in the second half as Harford Tech’s fullcourt defense either forced a miscue or hurried the Cougars into taking a less-than-desirable shot.

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“We could not put the ball in the hole in the second half,” Fallston coach Brad Hunt said. “They pressured us. We tried to move the ball around, but we couldn’t because the pressure was there, and defensively, we just had no answer for (Goodsell).”

Harford Tech took control of the contest in the third quarter, outsourcing Fallston, 17-8, behind 14 combined points from Goodsell and Gibson, who scored six straight points herself on layups in the quarter, to open up a 28-20 advantage that stood at 32-22 heading into the fourth quarter.

Galloway, a junior forward, kept things from getting completely out of hand as she poured in six of her team-high 12 points in the third quarter. She also pulled down 10 rebounds for the game.

Harford Tech's Anyia Gibson celebrates after cutting down the net after the MPSSAA High School Girls 2A East Region Playoff Final between the Fallston Cougars and Harford Tech Cobras at Harford Tech High School in Bel Air, Maryland on March 1, 2023. Harford Tech won 41-27. photo by Scott Serio for The Baltimore Banner
Harford Tech's Anyia Gibson celebrates after cutting down the net after the Cobras' victory over Fallston Wednesday evening. Harford Tech will play at Hereford Friday in a 2A state quarterfinal match. SLUG: BB-SP-VSN-Fallston-Harford-Tech-2A-state-girls-bball (Scott Serio/for the Baltimore Banner)

Worn down by Harford Tech’s constant pressure, the three-time state champion Cougars would fall behind by as many as 16 points early in the fourth quarter as they mustered just one made field goal and a trio of free throws.

“We could not put the ball in the hole in the second half,” Fallston coach Johnny Woods said. “They pressured us. We tried to move the ball around, but we couldn’t because the pressure was there, and defensively, we just had no answer for (Goodsell).”

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CLASS 2A NORTH REGION I CHAMPIONSHIP

HARFORD TECH 41, FALLSTON 27

Fallston - Maddy Burns 3, Natalie Wirth 3, Ayla Galloway 12, Brooke Bolesta 3, Leah Rhinehart 3, Jadin Woods 3. Totals: 9 8-14 27.

Harford Tech - Anyia Gibson 19, Sarah Hunt 3, Amya Goodsell 16, Jessica Castro 3. Totals: 17 4-9 41.

Fallston 11 3 8 5 - 27

Harford Tech 6 9 17 9 - 41

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