Keough puts clamps on John Carroll

Gators save their best for last in 36-34 victory

Girls Basketball

February 08, 2000|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Against host John Carroll yesterday, No. 2 Seton Keough spent the first 31: 30 exhibiting defensive artistry. It was the final 30 seconds, however, that turned out to be the true masterpiece.

After holding the No. 6 Patriots without a basket for more than 12 minutes late in the game, the Gators denied inbounds passes four times in the final 30 seconds and won the game, 36-34, on forward Jackie Valderas' baseline jumper with 4.5 seconds left.

The victory gave Seton Keough (19-4 overall, 11-2 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference) its first win at John Carroll (15-5, 12-2) in five years and ended the Patriots' overall winning streak at nine.

In a game in which offense was sparse, it was Seton Keough's defense that made the biggest impact.

Trailing by as many as six points from late in the first quarter, the Gators clawed back, holding John Carroll without a basket for a span of 12: 33, including the entire third quarter. They pulled even at 30 on a pair of foul shots by Meaghan Allan (nine points) with 4: 13 left, and again at 34 on two with by Denise King (nine) with 43 seconds left.

With the score still tied moments later, John Carroll took possession on a jump ball under its basket, with a chance to take the lead. Twice, however, the Patriots were unable to inbound the ball and were forced to use timeouts. On the third try, they fumbled it out of bounds under duress for the turnover.

Then, after the Gators had taken the lead in the final seconds, the Patriots were again unable to get the ball in, and called yet another timeout. In the end, they were left with a desperation 40-footer by Sarah Oktavec.

"We just told ourselves, `We're not letting them get the ball,' " said Gators guard Nikki Brown. "They were going to have to use a timeout or get a five-second call."

"We finally picked up the defense and got a little bit intense," said Seton Keough coach Jim Stromberg.

"That's something we can really do. We can really pressure people when they've got to go the full length of the court or right under the basket."

Brown played major roles in two aspects, holding John Carroll's Kristin Jasper -- who had averaged 20 points in her previous four games -- to eight points, and also setting up the game-winning shot by penetrating and dishing to Valderas on the baseline.

"It was a defensive battle on both sides, no question about it," said John Carroll coach Kathleen Shanna. "We had our chances at the end of the game and couldn't knock it down."

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