Balanced 'Cats ready for Frederick

Arundel's depth tough test for Cadets in 4A semifinal

Girls basketball

March 09, 2000|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The Arundel Wildcats are returning to the Class 4A state tournament with a total girls basketball package.

While most of the attention is appropriately directed at their two junior standouts, guard Jill Marano and forward Najmah Fauntleroy, the No. 6-ranked Wildcats (23-2) go into today's 3 p.m. semifinal at UMBC against Frederick (18-7) with much more.

Oxon Hill (18-4) takes on No. 7 Western (19-6) in the 5 p.m. semifinal, with the championship game set for 3 p.m. Saturday.

"They'll be looking to contain Fauntleroy and Marano, but we've played with a team concept all year long," said Arundel coach Lee Rogers, whose Wildcats have reached the state tournament four of the last six years, winning it all in 1996.

Rogers, in his 10th season, notes the emergence of junior forward Tracey Pucci, who has become a reliable go-to player inside with opponents focusing on Fauntleroy.

Then there's the steady senior guard pair, Keyana Washington and Chanell Sutton, who complement Marano.

More help comes from the bench, led by freshman guard Jessica Collins, who provides an instant spark.

Finally, there's relentless defense.

"For 32 minutes, we feel that will be too much pressure to handle," said Rogers. "We have to keep [Frederick] out of the paint, play with the entire 94 feet, and not make it a half-court game."

The Cadets (18-7) lost all-state player Ashley Bush in their second scrimmage in November and lost seven of their first 10 games, including a 55-50 overtime defeat to Arundel -- minus Marano -- in a holiday tournament.

But behind 6-foot-2 senior center Katie Brennan (13.4 points, 10.7 rebounds), Frederick has won 15 straight to earn its second straight state tournament appearance.

"One good thing about Arundel is that we've played them, so we're pretty familiar with them," said Frederick coach Todd Bono. "But it was Arundel without Marano, and that's a big difference, because you can't really prepare for the quickness she brings, along with the great court vision.

"We're coming in on a roll, our confidence is high, and we're comfortable playing a team we've already seen."

Girls playoffs

State semifinals (At UMBC)

Today

Class 4A

Arundel vs. Frederick, 3

Western vs. Oxon Hill, 5

Class 3A

DuVal vs. Paint Branch, 7

Milford Mill vs. Thomas Stone, 9

Tomorrow

Class 2A

Parkside vs. Linganore, 3

Gwynn Park vs. Dunbar, 5

Class 1A

Pocomoke vs. Allegany, 7

Glenelg vs. Rising Sun, 9

Finals

Saturday

Class 2A, 1 p.m.

Class 4A, 3 p.m.

Class 1A, 6 p.m.

Class 3A, 8 p.m.

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