Arundel bands together, beats Oxon Hill

No. 6 Wildcats fend off Clippers in closing minutes for second crown, 61-55

Girls 4A state final

March 12, 2000|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

A season that arrived with great promise was fulfilled for a young and fearless Arundel team yesterday afternoon at UMBC.

The sixth-ranked Wildcats, up against battle-tested Oxon Hill from Prince George's County that arguably had the tournament's most dominant player in Rebekkah Brunson, found an answer in numbers.

By game's end, the Wildcats needed contributions from 12 players to secure a 61-55 win and their second Class 4A state championship.

That, according to Arundel coach Lee Rogers, is what makes this one so special.

"They like each other a lot and do a lot of things together," said the 10-year coach, who won his first state title in 1996.

Much like the entire season, the Wildcats (25-2) paid close attention to detail on defense. They used five different players on Brunson -- a relentless 6-foot-2 senior center who had to earn each of her 24 points and 13 rebounds -- and also forced the Clippers guards into 19 turnovers.

Standout juniors Jill Marano, Najmah Fauntleroy and Tracy Pucci provided the majority of the offense, all reaching double figures and combining to score 39 points. But reserve forwards Katie Dempsey, Patricia Fenton, Melissa Scott, Jessica Landis and Erica Handleman also made their mark with key minutes at key times.

Baskets from Scott and Dempsey started an 11-0 run that concluded with a three-pointer from freshman Jessica Collins to give the Wildcats a 29-18 halftime lead.

When Brunson she scored her second straight basket in the final minute to cut Arundel's lead to 57-55 with 21 seconds left, the Wildcats needed a little more offense to complete the job.

That's when Marano (15 points, eight assists, four steals) found Pucci with a long outlet to push the lead to 59-55 with 14 seconds left. Junior guard Catherine Gonzalez provided the last two points at the free-throw line.

OXON HILL -- Brunson 24, Oliver 12, Lopez 11, Ford 7, Pain 1. Totals 20 10-16 55.

ARUNDEL -- Marano 15, Fauntleroy 14, Pucci 10, Collins 7, Washington 9, Scott 2, Dempsey 2, Gonzalez 2. Totals 25 10-17 61. Half: A, 29-19.

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