Spalding captures IAAM `A' title

Resolute seniors lift Cavs over No. 1 Seton Keough for 1st championship, 45-42

Girls basketball

High Schools

February 17, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

The five seniors on the No. 4 Archbishop Spalding girls basketball team decided a year ago after losing in the semifinals of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament that they did not want to graduate without winning a championship.

Last night, the Cavaliers (20-8) saw that decision through by upsetting No. 1 Seton Keough, 45-42, for the A Conference crown -- and their first-ever basketball championship -- at Villa Julie College. The Cavaliers' victory broke a 19-game Gators winning streak.

"For the five seniors on this team, [winning the tournament] has been our goal for the last four years, and this was it," said senior forward Kylie Bestul, of a class that includes LaToya Strong, Maggie Rapp, Gina Guaragna and Angela Schaech. "There's not much more motivation needed than that."

Freshman guard Stacy Hunt hit the front end of a one-and-one with 4.9 seconds left to give the Cavaliers the 45-42 edge. With one second left, the Gators' Jackie Valderas took a three-point attempt but it rimmed out.

"Stacy's free throw was big, because it put us up three," Strong said. "That meant we didn't have to worry about them going inside. We knew they would be looking for a three-pointer."

The Cavaliers' man-to-man defense had been tough on the Gators' three-point shooters all night. Strong held the Gators' ace, Sara Franz, to just one three-pointer -- her only field goal of the game. Overall, Spalding held the Gators to just two three-pointers on eight attempts.

"Our defense was awesome," said Spalding coach Deb Taylor.

Franz hit her only three-pointer last night midway through the second half to cut the Cavaliers' lead to 38-37 with 4:30 left in the game. Strong, who scored a game-high 15 points, made a terrific move to the basket and then Rapp hit two shots to boost Spalding's lead to 44-40 by the 2:12 mark.

A series of turnovers ran the clock down to 43 seconds before the Gators began to foul. Strong missed the front end of a one-and-one and Franz was fouled on the rebound.

Franz then hit two free throws to pull to within 44-42 with 41.4 seconds left.

Hunt was called for traveling while driving to the basket with 14 seconds left, giving the Gators an opening. But miscommunication between point guard Kristen McLaughlin and Franz, who made a different cut than McLaughlin was expecting, resulted in a turnover. That forced the Gators to foul Hunt.

"They just played tight, tight defense," Franz said. "Nothing was easy."

The Gators (22-5) had rallied from as much as an 11-point first-half deficit to take a 21-20 lead early in the second half. But after they went up 29-25, the Cavaliers hit seven of their last 12 shots.

Katie Latonik hit back-to-back three-pointers, the first of which gave the Cavaliers the lead for good at 30-29 in the first 15 seconds of the final quarter.

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