Arundel wins regional title for fifth time in seven years

53-42 win over Broadneck puts 'Cats in state semis

High Schools

4A East girls basketball

March 04, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

One journey came to an end, while another is just beginning.

The second-ranked Arundel girls basketball team overcame a valiant effort from a visiting Broadneck squad to capture its fifth Class 4A East regional championship in seven years with a 53-42 victory in Gambrills last night.

The Wildcats, the region's No. 1 seed who improved to 25-1, earned the right to meet Churchill in a state semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday at UMBC.

Churchill edged Frederick, 55-52, to win the West Region title.

The opportunity for a shot at back-to-back state crowns for eight Arundel seniors clearly weighed on the minds of several players after last night's win.

"It feels good, especially since this is our senior year," said senior forward Najmah Fauntleroy, who posted 10 points and 23 rebounds against the No. 6 seed Bruins. "We want to go out with a bang."

The Wildcats nearly lost that chance by opening the game with a sluggish start. Arundel, which had defeated Broadneck by an average of 23.5 points in their first two meetings, could only muster leads of 12-10 and 29-24 at the end of the first and second quarters, respectively.

"We were kind of disappointed in the way we came out," said Wildcats senior guard Jill Marano, who powered her team with a game-high 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. "We didn't come out hard and focused, and we didn't play the way we could have."

Part of that may have had to do with the Bruins' strategy of slowing the pace of the game. Under coach Bruce Springer's instructions, Broadneck frequently settled into a half-court game rather than open it up into a wide-open run-and-gun affair.

"We had to control the tempo," said Springer, whose team was led by senior guard Nikki Curtis' 11 points and eight rebounds and senior forward Nicole Barr's nine points and seven rebounds. "We wanted to run when we could, but also slow them down a bit."

The tactic appeared to work throughout much of the third quarter with Arundel clinging to a 37-32 lead.

But the Wildcats broke off an 11-4 run spanning four minutes in the final period. Sophomore guard Amanda Hernandez scored five of her 12 points during the spurt.

The Bruins (17-8) gamely tried to catch Arundel, but Marano converted five of six free throws to clinch the victory and the regional title.

Neither team shot particularly well. Broadneck connected on 27.8 percent (17 of 61) of its attempts, while the Wildcats shot 24.3 percent (17 of 70).

The key was the free-throw line, where Arundel sank 16 of 18 attempts.

Wildcats coach Lee Rogers, whose team extended its winning streak to 23 games, said he would appreciate a return trip to the state semifinals as soon as it sunk in.

"It hasn't hit me yet," he said. "I'm sure it'll hit me when we start practicing for our next opponent."

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