Behind Fauntleroy, Arundel wins again

Beating Sev. Park, 56-47, earns third county title

Girls basketball

February 24, 2000|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The rebounds were staggered throughout the game and most of Najmah Fauntleroy's points came in the decisive second half.

By game's end, the Arundel junior forward had a 20-point, 25-rebound performance to lead the Wildcats to their third straight county championship with a 56-47 effort against Severna Park that also was win No. 200 for coach Lee Rogers.

Trailing 20-19 at the half, the No. 6-ranked Wildcats (20-2) took control in the third quarter -- getting contributions from many -- with Fauntleroy setting the tone with the dominating work down low that started with a three-point play on her team's opening possession of the second half.

Senior forward Tracey Pucci added 15 points and 10 rebounds; junior Jill Marano finished with nine points, including a big three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 39-34 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, and senior guard Keyana Washington was the defensive standout with her work on Severna Park's Natalie Hicks.

It all added up to the Wildcats' fourth county championship in the five years the game has been played.

"We had a talk at halftime about them being underachievers and how we didn't want that to happen. They stepped it up in the second half. I put a lot of the responsibility on Najmah and Jill," said Rogers, in his 10th season.

"I really wanted this team to be a part of the 200 wins. We try not to talk about winning -- just having fun and playing hard. In the back of their minds, I think they wanted to do this tonight for me and also for them."

Behind a 12-point second quarter from senior Kim Lawton, who finished with a team-high 20, the No. 7 Falcons (17-5) were able to slow down Fauntleroy and Marano with a tight zone that popped out quick to provide the halftime lead.

The second half was the difference as the Wildcats took the lead over in the third quarter and pulled away with a 9-2 run to start the fourth.

"It was heart," said Fauntleroy, who scored 14 of her 20 points after intermission. "Mr Rogers had a good talk with us, telling us to keep our heads up and it was our game. And we answered him with a win."

Hicks finished with 13 points, scoring her 1,000th career point in the final minute to give the Falcons something to celebrate.

Severna Park coach Bill Giblin said it was simply too much Fauntleroy in the second half.

"Najmah stepped it up. She had a great second half," he said. "Going in, we felt we had to stop one of the two -- Jill or Najmah. We chose Marano."

Arundel and Severna Park split two games in the regular season, both finishing with 15-1 marks in the county. Now the Wildcats have the upper hand with the strong possibility of a fourth meeting coming in the Class 4A East region playoffs.

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