With today's current economic situation, local sports enthusiasts wanting to get the most out of their entertainment dollar should take in an Arundel girls basketball game.
This season, the Wildcats are giving a new meaning to the phrase "Cardiac Kids," and Friday evening's battle against 4A Friendship Division rival Glen Burnie was no different.
Backcourt stalwarts Alina Smith and Donna Parker both hit front ends of one-and-ones with 59 and 16 seconds left, respectively, to clinch a 43-41 victory, and a school-record 13 wins (13-4 overall, 2-3 division) for the Wildcats.
In its last two games, Arundel edged Bay Division contender Severna Park, 54-50, and Northeast, 46-45.
Glen Burnie beat Arundel on Jan. 4, 50-38.
Glen Burnie's Christy Hutson (game-high 12 points) had the opportunity to put the Gophers ontop by one with 14 seconds to go Friday after being fouled by center Tiffany Clayton. But the senior forward misfired on both attempts, keeping the score 42-41.
Parker, who coralled a game-high 14 rebounds, pulled down the crucial rebound of the second miss.
"I'll tell you, I just can't go on like this," joked Arundel coach Lee Rogers. "I don't think I'm going to be able to make it to the playoffs. I think we may have worked a little too hard for this one, especially during the last couple of minutes. You could tell that they were tryingto do a little too much."
The Wildcats had taken their biggest lead of the night at 39-28 at the 7:35 mark, as reserve freshman Tami Gosheff (four points, three rebounds) swished both ends of a one-and-one.
Glen Burnie (8-8, 2-4) then went on a 12-2 run for the next 6minutes. Forward Kelly Wagner, who finished the game with 11 points,tallied seven points during the run.
"It's very hard to tell the girls after a game like this that they played well, but they did," said Gopher head coach Colleen Stauffer.
"They're feeling pretty low right now because of the way we fought back and still came up short. But I'm still very proud of them. They have a great work ethic, and they don't quit. It was was just a well-played, evenly matched ballgame."
After taking a 24-21 halftime lead, Arundel outscored Glen Burnie, 13-7, during the third quarter, using its zone press to rattle the Gophers into numerous turnovers.
The Wildcats also won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding their opponents, 16-10, for the quarter and 51-34 for the game.
"Our press worked fairly well, but theydid get a couple of layups on us," said Rogers. "But we did make adjustments in the crucial situations. And Michelle (Harrison, seven points, four rebounds, three steals) did a great job coming off the bench for us. She played great defense and showed a lot of hustle. You just can't say enough about the kids' attitude. They never say die.
"It seems like we've used the Christmas tournament as a springboard for the rest of the season. We've been down to the wire a lot, but thegirls don't quit.
"People like Julie Musitano (reserve freshman center) and Tami have been giving us some quality minutes. I can put them in without losing anything. You have to give the young kids someplaying time so when the playoffs come around, they'll have that experience behind them."
The Wildcats began their string of close victories with a 43-42 win over Poly of Baltimore City on Dec. 7.
They also won their own holiday tourney (Dec. 27-28) with a 62-60 win over Bowie of Prince George's County, and Northeast, 55-51, in the title game.