Collins seeks happy ending to storied career

Arundel senior is back in final four three years after winning state title

Girls basketball playoff notebook

High Schools

March 13, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham and Katherine Dunn | Glenn P. Graham and Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

It's been quite the journey back to UMBC for Jessie Collins, Arundel's talented senior point guard.

In her freshman year, she was a key component off the bench in helping the Wildcats to their second state title.

Three seasons and two anterior cruciate ligament surgeries later - the first on her right knee the summer before her sophomore season and the second on her left knee at the end of that season - she's looking forward to the chance of ending her high school career the same way she started it.

The team captain will lead the No. 3 Wildcats (22-3) against defending Class 4A state champion Winston Churchill (22-2) in today's 3 p.m. state semifinal. The winner advances to Saturday's championship game.

"I just worked really hard and it's all because I just love to play basketball," said Collins, who played well as a junior, but has found a higher level this season. "Physically, I`m back where I was my freshman season, and, mentally, my game's a lot stronger."

Collins, who averages 14.3 points and 5.5 assists a game, believes the Wildcats have all the necessary components to win the title.

"The first is our heart, the second is hustle and the third and most important is defense, which gets our offense going," she said. "Our confidence is high, but we know we still have to keep working hard to get there."

Admission at UMBC is $5, with children under 7 free.

Keep 'em coming

Second-ranked Woodlawn has gone unbeaten this season with a balanced starting lineup, but what puts the Warriors over the top is their bench.

Kim Carr, Kendra Baldwin and Joy Clark all have come off the bench to make significant contributions throughout the season and especially during the Warriors' playoff run through the Class 4A North region.

Carr, a 6-foot-2 freshman center averaging five points and nine rebounds a game, had 13 points and 12 rebounds in the regional final win over No. 11 Western.

Baldwin, a 5-9 junior forward, had seven rebounds and a big follow shot late in the fourth quarter. Clark, a 5-5 junior guard, scored 10 points in the regional quarterfinal win at Walbrook.

"Any of those kids could lead us in scoring on any day," said Woodlawn coach DeWayne Burroughs. "They make it so much easier for me, because I can rest some of my starters and not lose anything."

Home away from home

The Milford Mill girls are getting used to making the trip to UMBC. This will be their sixth straight time in the Class 3A semifinals and the fourth for the senior duo of Qiana Cheatham and Candyce Jeter.

Cheatham, a 5-10 forward/guard, leads the Millers in scoring (13.3) and rebounding (6.7).

Despite averaging 12.8 points, Jeter has struggled a bit offensively this season. Still, the 5-9 forward/guard came up big with 14 points in the 58-50 victory at Fallston in the regional final.

"They both played well in the Fallston game and that helped a lot because they're leaders," said Milford coach Pam Wright.

No time for lacrosse

Catonsville guard Becky Clipp doesn't mind that her lacrosse season is on hold while she helps the Comets make a run at the Class 2A title.

Clipp, who signed early to play lacrosse for Maryland, led the Comets to victory in the area's tightest regional race, Class 2A North. Three of their four regional games were decided by three points or less.

"I'm a senior and I take it on myself. I keep thinking, `We can't lose this game,' " said Clipp, who scored 57 points in the regionals and has averaged 12.7 points for the season. In the Comets' final three regional games, she also had 21 steals and 16 rebounds.

In the 41-40 victory over Hereford in the regional final, Clipp scored 16 points, including a key free throw down the stretch. She also grabbed the rebound after the Bulls missed their final shot. In the regional semifinal, she rallied the Comets from 15 points down to beat City, 46-43.

"She did it when times were bleak," said Comets coach Mike Mohler. "That's what separates her and she's done it all season."

Eagles finally soaring

As a first-year head coach last year, Brandi Barnes guided Aberdeen to a program-best 20-win season, a Harford County crown and its first Class 2A East regional title before the Eagles fell to Hammond in the state semifinals.

But this winter, a season that started with great optimism spiraled downhill quickly, as Aberdeen won just two of its first eight games and finished with a losing record (6-7) in the county.

The low point may have been when Barnes had to forfeit a Dec. 14 game against C. Milton Wright because the Eagles, riddled by injuries and disciplinary and academic problems, didn't have enough available players.

The adversity has made the Eagles' run to the state semifinals - they will play Walkersville at 3 p.m. tomorrow - that much more enjoyable for Barnes.

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