McDonogh survives NDP, 61-54

Late play by Frost, Braver seals big win in tiny gym

Girls basketball

High Schools

January 08, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

McDonogh's girls basketball team cheered the end of last night's victory at Notre Dame Prep as if it had been a playoff game - and with good reason.

The No. 13 Eagles became the first ranked team this season to escape Notre Dame Prep's postage stamp of a basketball court with a victory, 61-54, in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game.

"Whew," said Eagles senior Rachel Braver. "This court is so small there's no room for anything, and their fans are right on the sideline."

Third-ranked Roland Park, No. 10 Institute of Notre Dame and No. 12 Archbishop Spalding have all fallen at NDP, but the Eagles stayed a step ahead by handling the press and hanging with NDP on the boards.

Leading 53-52 with two minutes left, the Eagles (10-2 overall, 6-1 A Conference) executed their press break well down the stretch, getting the ball to 6-foot-1 sophomore center Samantha Frost for three layups to pull ahead 59-54 with a minute to go.

Rebounding made the difference after that, especially when Braver and Dominique Damico missed the front ends of one-and-ones. Braver, who finished with 14 points and 23 rebounds, grabbed both rebounds, and her follow shot with 24 seconds left sealed the victory.

"The home-court advantage here is awesome," said Eagles first-year coach Tom Gizzi. "NDP did a great job forcing their tempo of game."

Damico, who also scored 14, said Gizzi tried to prepare the Eagles for that during practice on Tuesday.

"He shrank the court by putting chairs around, and he brought in boys to press us, so that made us used to the size of the court," she said. "Most teams come in here and lose because they're not used to playing on a small court."

Blazers coach Mike Buchanan uses a variety of pressure defenses and frequently rotates players, often five at a time, in and out.

"Our theory is to try to use everybody and wear the other team down. A game like this - a couple bounces here and there and it could be a completely different game," said Buchanan, who had 10 players score, led by Grace Carmen's 12 points.

It might have been a different game, too, if the Blazers had shot better than 30 percent from the field. After pulling within 33-30 to open the second half, they missed eight straight shots.

The Blazers' home court has helped them to an 8-4 overall record, 3-4 in the conference, but they are 0-2 in road conference games. Adjusting to a bigger court has been difficult for the Blazers, said Buchanan, but they will have to learn, because a new, bigger gym is under construction at Notre Dame Prep.

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