Slow-starting Arundel left behind by Suitland Wildcats miss first 11 shots in absorbing 66-61 loss

Class 4A girls basketball

March 15, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

It took the Class 4A state championship game for the Arundel Wildcats to finally find their match.

Suitland brought its own pair of outstanding guards to UMBC yesterday afternoon with a strong inside game as well. With a jittery first half for the No. 5-ranked Wildcats slightly overshadowing an incredible second-half performance, they came up a little short in their bid for a second state title in three years, falling to the Rams from Prince George's County, 66-61.

Arundel senior guard Sherice Proctor closed out a brilliant four-year career with a game-high 30 points, including 24 in the second half, but the Rams (24-2) hit their free throws in the final minutes and had just enough answers to fend off the Wildcats for Suitland's first-ever state girls title.

The Wildcats, Anne Arundel County and East Region champs, finished with a 24-4 mark.

The usual question for any given Arundel opponent was whether they had gone up against a guard tandem as solid as Proctor and junior Meagan Rollins this season. Yesterday, the question was answered by Suitland's senior backcourt of Sharron Francis and LaShay Makal, who combined for 37 points, eight steals and nine assists to offset the Wildcats pair.

Add the inside play of Suitland junior forward Candice Phelps, who scored 17 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, along with junior center Christina Strother (10 rebounds) and you have what separated the two teams yesterday.

The Wildcats came out nervous, missing on their first 11 shots from the field before Rollins hit a runner with 1: 03 left in the first quarter. With the Suitland guards handling the Arundel pressure and its forwards taking care of the boards, the Rams forced the Wildcats into a half-court game for the entire first half and took a 29-19 lead at the break.

Proctor and Rollins scored all of the Wildcats' 20 points in the third quarter to cut the Rams' lead to 44-39 before Suitland' Ebony Hollingsworth closed out the quarter with a basket inside.

With 2: 36 left in the game, Rollins found Proctor with a long outlet for an easy basket to cut the lead to 56-54, but Suitland, making its first state playoff appearance, didn't crumble.

Makal answered with two free throws on the Rams' next possession, then followed with a jumper. Francis then connected on two free throws to push the lead up to 62-54 with 1: 09 left. The Wildcats never got any closer than five the rest of the way.

SUITLAND -- Makal 22, Phelps 17, Francis 15, Marable 4, Strother 4, Hollingsworth 2, Simmons 2. Totals 24 17-26 66.

ARUNDEL -- Proctor 30, Rollins 15, Marano 9, Schiecz 2, Fauntleroy 2, Pucci 2, Edmonds 1. Totals 20 17-22 61. Half: S, 29-19.

Pub Date: 3/15/98

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