Arundel's big 1st quarter leaves lasting impression in 87-64 win

Early surge gets Wildcats by Woodlawn for 3rd title

Class 4A state girls basketball

High Schools

March 14, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

It was a first quarter the Arundel girls basketball team will savor for a long time, one with many more makes than misses and one that showcased the harassing defense that has become the program's trademark.

And it came at the most opportune time for the No. 1 Wildcats, in yesterday's Class 4A state final game at UMBC's RAC Arena, clearing the path for a comfortable 87-64 win over No. 4 Woodlawn for their third state crown.

The Wildcats (26-2) finished the season on a 19-game winning streak, and yesterday's 87 points tied a state-tournament record established by Mount Hebron in 1988. More importantly, they accomplished everything they set out to do this season and closed things out in a confident manner.

"At the start of the season, we mention winning four things: the regular season and [Anne Arundel] county tournament, regions and states," said Arundel coach Lee Rogers. "And then we don't talk about it anymore, just what we have to do to get to those things."

Mission completed. That's what the back of the Wildcats' post-game T-shirts read, and the team wasted little time getting it done yesterday.

Hitting 11 of their 15 first-quarter shots - all five starters scored - and forcing eight Woodlawn turnovers enabled the Wildcats to jump out to a 29-8 lead going into the second quarter.

Junior All-Metro guard Alex McGuire took the lead role with a game-high 34 points, including a tournament-record 18-for-18 shooting show from the free-throw line. The rest of the Wildcats made sure to follow.

In the tone-setting first quarter, McGuire scored 16 points, Ana Baker (15 points) handed out five of her nine assists, and Janae Butler scored six of her 22 points, all while the Wildcats defense did its part.

"I haven't seen many teams in high school have that kind of quarter," Rogers said. "Their rhythm was good, they hit open people and everyone made their shots. I just knew we were on and everything was clicking, and from there, you just don't want any mental lapses."

The Warriors never quit, but simply had too much ground to make up in three quarters. Behind 22 points and 12 rebounds from junior Brittney Taylor, they trimmed an Arundel lead that had reached 30 in the second quarter to 62-48 when senior forward Ronda Shelley (15 points) converted a three-point play with 43 seconds left in the third.

The Wildcats got a basket from Latavia Vails with three seconds left in the quarter, and McGuire found herself at the foul line to make two free throws to start the fourth, and the lead was up to 66-48.

After reaching the state semifinals in 2002 and making last year's championship game, the Warriors were hoping they would take that final step in a bid for their first state crown.

"Today was tough, but the four years I've been here we've always had a good program and when I leave, Woodlawn will still have a good program," said Shelley, one of four senior starters.

Woodlawn coach DeWayne Burroughs, who was ejected late in the game after receiving his second technical foul, said the turnover bug he thought the team had solved late in the season came back.

"It was just one of those nights," he said. "We played well all year long, but we started slow tonight and once you start slow against a good team, you're not going to come back. But I'm proud of my kids, especially the seniors. They went 86-14 in their four years, and if it weren't for them, we wouldn't be here."

With yesterday's performance, McGuire completed an incredible season in which she became Arundel's career scoring leader. Along with her 34 points, she had six steals, four assists and five rebounds.

"This is the only way we could wrap things up," she said. "If we would have lost this game, the season would have been disappointing. We work so hard and expect so much from our team, this is the only way to end it."

WOODLAWN-Wildy 5, Taylor 22, Shelley 15, Britton 2, Baldwin 6, Milan 6, Carr 8. Totals: 25 16-23 64. ARUNDEL-McGuire 34, Baker 15, Butler 22, Vails 6, Brownlee 8, Jenkins 2. Totals: 35 23-27 87. Half: A, 43-21.

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