23-0 run puts Arundel back in states

Severna Park defeated by its nemesis, 59-44

Girls 4A regional final

High School

March 04, 2000|By Pete Bielski | Pete Bielski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Arundel girls basketball team continued its mastery of Severna Park, though it didn't come without a scare or two in last night's Class 4A East regional title game at Arundel.

The Wildcats trailed by 11 points midway through the second quarter only to roar back and defeat the Falcons for the third time this season, 59-44. A shocking, nine-minute, 23-0 run turned the game Arundel's way and takes the Anne Arundel County champion (23-2) to the state semifinals next week at UMBC.

Najmah Fauntleroy led Arundel with 17 points and Jill Marano added 15, but it might have been junior forward Tracy Pucci who saved the night for Arundel.

She scored seven of her 11 points in the opening quarter, when Arundel was holding off a Severna Park onslaught. The Falcons forced the Wildcats into poor shot selection and 5-for-20 from the field in the first eight minutes. The numerous misses propelled an impressive Severna Park fast break that vaulted the underdogs to leads of 18-9 and 24-13.

Arundel looked lost. But the program that has now earned state semifinal berths in four of the past six years, including an state title in 1996, found its way in front of a boisterous home crowd.

The rally started when Fauntleroy converted the rebound of a missed free throw to cut Severna Park's lead to 24-15 with 4: 00 left in the half. And the Arundel rush didn't end until 3: 50 remained in the third quarter. By the time Severna Park's Kim Lawton made a fast-break layup for the Falcons, it was 36-26.

"We were a little uneasy, but I wouldn't say we panicked," Pucci said. "We kept our composure and picked up our intensity. It's all about the team. We practiced hard for this all week, and we were confident we could do it."

Fauntleroy dominated in the second quarter, putting in three layups in the final three minutes to help Arundel reduce its deficit to 24-23 at halftime.

Marano took over in the opening moments of the third quarter, hitting a jumper and a three-pointer to give Arundel a 28-24 lead. Pucci added two inside baskets to help extend the lead to 34-24, then Fauntleroy capped the rally just as it started, by rebounding a missed free throw and converting it into a layup.

"I was concerned with our start, but I knew it would just be a matter of time," Arundel coach Lee Rogers said. "We weathered the storm."

Severna Park managed one last rally, getting as close as 38-36 with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

But Fauntleroy hit a 10-footer to close the third quarter, then converted a three-point play to spark Arundel's 7-0 surge to open the fourth, and Arundel was back in control, 47-36.

"We came here ready to play, especially after they beat us in the county [championship]," said Severna Park senior Meg Miller. "When we got off to that fast start, we were excited and pumped up. To build a lead against a team like that doesn't happen too often. It was frustrating and disappointing to lose after that great start."

The Falcons were led by Hicks, who had 15, and Lawton, with 10. Severna Park topped Arundel, 54-52, in January, when Marano was out with an injury. Since then, Arundel has won 11 straight, including a 49-43 regular-season win over the Falcons and a 56-49 win in the county tournament last week.

Pub Date: 3/04/00

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