Backcourt lifts Arundel to final frontier, 60-38

McGuire, Baker combine for 33 points vs. Oxon Hill

Class 4A state girls basketball

High Schools

March 12, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The first two hugs from Arundel coach Lee Rogers after the Wildcats' Class 4A state semifinal victory fittingly went to junior guards Alex McGuire and Ana Baker.

It wasn't just for their combined 33 points, 10 rebounds and six assists or the effective tag-team job they did defensively on Oxon Hill standout Denesha Kenion in the No. 1-ranked team's 60-38 win yesterday at UMBC's RAC Arena.

Try all the above and more as Arundel, now 25-2, chases after its third state girls basketball championship tomorrow against Woodlawn - a 55-53 winner in double overtime over Damascus in the other semifinal. Game time is set for 3 p.m. at UMBC.

"Alex and Ana are the leaders that we need on the ballclub," Rogers said. "The kids look to them, and I do, too. They're an extension of me, and they've done a great job of carrying on the tradition of this program."

Rogers talked about former standout guards Sherice Proctor, Megan Rollins and Jill Marano, how their play lifted the program, and how McGuire and Baker are maintaining its standing.

Yesterday in the first half, McGuire focused on keeping the University of Virginia-bound Kenion in check while Baker scored 11 of her 15 points to build a 26-18 halftime lead.

In the second half, Baker took her turn on defense while McGuire scored the first eight points in the third quarter en route to a game-high 18 points.

The Wildcats again used a familiar formula to advance to another state championship game: Play tough, turnover-causing defense for 32 minutes and the offense will take care of itself.

The Wildcats held Kenion to six points on 3-for-12 shooting and forced the Prince George's County team (19-5) into 31 turnovers.

"We each took [Kenion] for a half, so we both played the good defense on her and neither of us were tired, so we had a lot of energy on offense. We just play tough defense and know our offense will come like it always does," said Baker, who finished with six rebounds, four assists and four steals.

The Wildcats shot just 36 percent and turned the ball over 12 times in the first half. But while McGuire found her offense after intermission, scoring 10 third-quarter points in all, Kenion stayed quiet, allowing Arundel to build a 44-28 lead going into the fourth quarter.

"They played good defense on me, and our shots weren't falling," said Kenion, who came into the game averaging 17 points. "They were playing me `man' and as I would drive, another would come up to force me to pass the ball or take a tough shot."

Junior forwards Latavia Vails (nine points, six rebounds) and Janae Butler (three points, nine rebounds, six steals) held their own defensively down low, with sophomore guard Danae Brownlee contributing six points, three steals and two assists.

The Wildcats have no plans of doing anything differently tomorrow.

"It'll take pretty much the same - defensive pressure, moving the ball around, hitting our layups and open shots and whatever else we've been doing all season," McGuire said.

A-McGuire 18, Baker 15, Vails 9, Brownlee 6, Butler 3, Watts 5, Head 2, Ramsey 2. Totals 25 11-16 60. OH-Crittenden 12, Bullock 8, Kenion 6, Evans 4, Smith 4, Cooper 2, Gillespie 2. Totals 18 2-12 38. Half: A, 26-18.

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