Shooting 51 percent in a girls basketball game virtually assures victory -- unless the opponent is No. 1 McDonogh.
The Eagles shot a phenomenal 63 percent from the field to beat No. 2 Roland Park, 72-57, for their third straight Association of Independent Schools A Division championship yesterday at Loyola College's Reitz Arena.
Two-time All-Metro point guard Vicki Brick led the Eagles' shooting clinic, hitting 13 of 16 shots en route to a 32-point afternoon. With a blistering first step, she burst past Reds defenders for one layup after another early and hit her first six shots.
The Eagles (24-1) have not lost an AIS championship since Brick arrived, but the junior regarded this one above the others.
"This one was the best feeling of all," said Brick, "because this was the toughest game, No. 1 vs. No. 2. It wasn't just the AIS championship. It was the area championship. We made a statement that we're No. 1 and we made it clear by beating the second team."
The Eagles' shooting and Brick's performance overshadowed a fine game from Roland Park (23-4). Shooting 51 percent would grab the headlines any other day and the Reds didn't make this game nearly as easy for McDonogh as the final score might indicate.
Although the Eagles ran up a 41-27 lead by halftime, the Reds cut it to two in the third quarter and were within five with less than three minutes to go.
Through much of the first half the Reds were slow on offense and seemed unsure of how to attack the Eagles' man-to-man defense.
"We weren't playing with any confidence. We were taking our time," said Reds guard Meghan Kelly. "At halftime, [coach Scott] Buckley told us that we had to step it up. We could either kiss this game goodbye or we could step it up and make a run and we did make a run."
The Reds pulled within 48-46 after Betsy Gaines hit a 20-footer and made the steal that set up Kelly's 17-footer.
Then the Eagles pulled away again with eight straight points sparked by three Jazmine Norton steals. Shani Moore scored four to end the third quarter and Brick scored four to open the fourth for a 56-46 edge with 6: 39 to go.
Four minutes later, Lauren Miller's free throw capped a five-point Reds run that pulled them within 60-55.
Gaines, who finished with 19 points, nearly made it a three-point game, but her layup dipped in and then sailed out. McDonogh got the rebound and after a timeout, Brick nailed a three-pointer to spark a 10-point Eagles run.
"That shot was really big for us," said McDonogh coach Katie Keating. "The previous three times down the court, we didn't move the ball at all. We were all standing still. Finally, we ran our offense and passed the ball seven or eight times and Vicki got a wide-open three-pointer."
Several other outside shots also proved critical for the Eagles, including a couple of late 18-footers by 6-foot senior center Moore and two early baseline jumpers from Aisha Mason.
"You can't ask for anything more than Shani shooting from out there," said Buckley, whose team also lost by 15 to the Eagles during the regular season and in last year's title game. "We shot well, but we hit a lot of layups. They hit a lot of perimeter shots."
For the Eagles, the victory caps their best season ever. They earned their first No. 1 ranking, beat seven ranked teams and did not lose to an area opponent.
However, the championship also marked the final game for two of the area's top players, Moore and guard Mary Urban.
"This one's bittersweet," said Moore, "because it's a great feeling to win our third in a row, but it's really painful knowing that it's our last one. We go out on a good one though."
Pub Date: 2/15/98