Top-ranked Arundel falls to R. Baptist

Wildcats wear down in fourth, losing, 71-54

Girls basketball

High Schools

January 07, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

It was a night filled with overwhelming tasks for the top-ranked Arundel girls basketball team, trying to stay with a talented Riverside Baptist team that was a little quicker, much bigger and more experienced.

The Wildcats managed to measure up for three quarters, but were hit with foul trouble and simply wore out by the fourth in surrendering to the visiting Crusaders, 71-54, last night in Gambrills.

Stopping senior guard Wanisha Smith, who will be playing at Duke next year, proved to be the Wildcats' toughest assignment. She finished with 40 points, always seeming to step up any time the Wildcats got close.

Standout guard Alex McGuire became Arundel's quickest player to reach 1,000 points.

Her pull-up jumper from the free-throw line with 3:03 to play gave her 1,001 points -- the sixth player in the program to reach the milestone and first to accomplish the feat as a junior. Play was stopped on the next possession and Arundel coach Lee Rogers presented McGuire with a ball while the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

"I didn't even know -- I knew I was close, but apparently everyone else knew. They stopped the game and I didn't know what was going on -- it was nice," said McGuire, who was the county's Player of the Year as a sophomore.

She would have preferred a win, but by the time she hit the special basket -- giving her 11 points for the game -- the Crusaders (16-3) were comfortably leading 66-50.

A fourth foul in the final minute of the third quarter sent McGuire to the bench with the Wildcats (6-2) down 46-40. When she returned with 4:57 left in the game, the visitors from Upper Marlboro, ranked fifth by The Washington Post going into the week, had a 62-46 lead with the game well under control.

After sophomore guard Danae Brownlee hit a runner with 41 seconds left in the third quarter to cut the Crusaders' lead to 46-42, Smith came back with a three-pointer from the right side, and Riverside Baptist opened the fourth quarter with a 13-4 run to take over.

"I knew it was going to be a tough game coming in here," said Riverdale Baptist coach Diane Richardson. "We had to make sure we executed well on offense and defense and were able to stay patient when needed. Arundel is a very good team -- disciplined and fundamentally sound. And they are young, so they'll be good for a while."

Rogers found plenty of positives -- most notably the inside play of juniors Janae Butler (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Latavia Vails (nine points, 12 rebounds) -- and said the experience will make his team better.

"They're a good team, and I thought we competed well with them," he said. "I was impressed how we fought inside with them both on offense and defense. Things are going in the right direction."

That's how McGuire sees it.

"Hopefully this is the last loss we have. We have to learn from this, keep progressing and come out even tougher the next couple games," she said.

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