No. 3 Seton Keough cools off McDonogh

Valderas' 16 points spark Gators as Eagles' streak ends at nine games, 42-31

Girls basketball

High schools

January 12, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Seton Keough's third-ranked girls basketball team finally reached its comfort zone last night.

After struggling against Mercy's zone defense Wednesday, the Gators went more to the inside strength of All-Metro center Jackie Valderas last night against No. 17 McDonogh's zone. Valderas responded with 16 points en route to a 42-31 Gators victory in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference contest.

The Eagles arrived at the Gators' gym riding a nine-game winning streak that included upsets of No. 1 St. Frances, 50-48, on Monday and No. 8 St. Mary's, 42-40, on Wednesday. Both of those wins came on the road.

Last night, however, the Eagles' road game couldn't contend with the double threat of the 6-foot Valderas and 5-6 shooting guard Sara Franz, who scored 12.

"They were more intense coming out," said McDonogh coach Jon Washington, who was forced to switch to a man-to-man defense before the end of the first quarter. "Their senior experience was a big key. We really have a young team."

The Gators weren't worried about the Eagles' winning streak, but they were aware of it.

"We said, `We're putting an end to that,' " said Valderas, who also had 10 rebounds. "We knew we had to come out hard because they were coming off such a high, beating St. Frances and St. Mary's. It basically came down to the team that made the least mistakes."

Franz had the hot hand early, sinking back-to-back three pointers. Her second three-pointer sparked an 11-1 run, with the rest of the Gators' points coming in the paint.

"Our plan was to go inside and we did that," said Gators coach Jackie Boswell, who had been frustrated with the lack of post offense in the 42-32 win over No. 5 Mercy.

"Sara coming out and hitting those threes really opened up the inside for us. We were much more patient on the offensive end and we made better decisions. That was the difference."

After Franz gave the Gators a 6-3 edge, Mary Olds stole the ball twice, converted the first possession and fed Valderas on the second. Franz made the next steal, lost handle of the ball in front of the basket, but tipped it to Valderas for a 12-3 lead.

After Patrice Johnson hit a free throw for McDonogh, 5-5 guard Kaitlin Keene made a steal off an Eagles inbounds pass under the Gators' basket and converted to run the lead to 14-4.

In the second quarter, after the Eagles switched to man-to-man defense, the Gators continued to go inside. Valderas scored all the Gators' points in the quarter, including six straight to push the advantage to 20-8 for the biggest lead of the game.

McDonogh (10-3, 7-2 conference) pulled within six late in the third quarter, but could get no closer despite holding Seton Keough (9-4, 6-2) without a possession for the first 1:23 of the fourth quarter.

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