Carroll Christian girls prevail



For the second time in as many years, the Carroll Christian girls basketball team on Saturday claimed the Maryland Association of Christian Schools Athletic League tournament title, avenging a previous 20-point loss to beat Clinton Christian, 38-32, in Bel Air.

Junior point guard Christine Maher scored nine points, including a three-pointer that broke a 32-32 tie with just over two minutes remaining. Her sister, center Amanda Maher, also had nine points, to give the Patriots (17-4 through Saturday) their third title in four years and fifth in seven.

"We played very well against a high-powered team," Carroll coach Matthew Reisberg said of Clinton, which entered the tournament 15-0 in the conference and had handed the Patriots their most recent loss, 49-29, in late January.

Christine Maher earned honors as the tournament's Most Valuable Player, and Amanda Maher and forward Ashley Hale also made the all-tournament team. All were instrumental as the Patriots opened play Thursday with a 53-14 win over Frederick and then defeated Harford Christian, 53-48, in Friday's semifinal.

The celebration, however, didn't last long.

On Monday, Carroll Christian began play in the Maryland Christian Schools state tournament. Seeded ninth in Division I, the Patriots opened play against Annapolis Area Christian.

Vaulting to gold

Jordan Wike's indoor track and field season began late while he and the rest of his Winters Mill football teammates were wrapping up their playoff run.

Bethaney Perna's season took a blow with a disappointing performance at the county championships.

At last week's Class 2A-1A state championships, however, both Wike and Perna found themselves at the top of the pole-vaulting ladder.

Wike, a senior, repeated as state titlist when he cleared 12 feet, 3 inches. Perna vaulted 9 feet to win her third straight pole-vaulting crown (two indoor and one outdoor).

Falcons coach Paul Burnside credits their success to flexibility gained from other sports. Perna competed in gymnastics for several years, while Wike has a background in martial arts.

"From these backgrounds, I believe both athletes have learned a fearless approach to reaching new heights in the pole vault," Burnside said. "Both Jordan and Bethaney possess a highly focused, competitive spirit, and both have taken part in offseason athletic camps to learn many technical aspects of the pole vault event."

Laying it on the line

As the Liberty boys basketball team prepared for the Class 2A West playoffs, one of coach Steve Johnson's biggest concerns was his team's performance at the foul line.

"We need to improve our foul shooting," Johnson said. "We've struggled this year from the line, and I don't think that will win playoff games."

Johnson said his team has shot about 60 percent from the line this season - about 10 percent shy of its preseason goal.

"I always think that, as a team, if you can shoot 70 percent, that will win ballgames for you," he said. "We worked hard at it, but we have some kids who are just not good free-throw shooters."

Johnson said despite each player shooting about 30 foul shots each day in practice, the percentage hasn't budged - something that he fears could come into play during the playoffs.

Emerging Cavalier

A major surprise in county girls basketball this season has been the emergence of South Carroll sophomore Kelsey Franklin. In her first full season on varsity, Franklin entered the postseason as the county's leading scorer, averaging more than 14 points per game.

The 5-foot-10 guard scored a career-high 32 points in a recent 68-61 win over Francis Scott Key.

"She takes it to the hole, and she gets on the foul line a lot," Cavaliers coach Liz Shannon said. "Then she shoots 75 percent from the foul line. She just goes in strong, and it works for her."

Franklin spent most of her freshman year on the junior varsity before earning a promotion late last season.

South Carroll also got a bonus in mid-February with the return of 6-1 center Melissa Axtell, who had been out all season after her second surgery in as many years to repair damage in her left knee.

Axtell initially suffered a torn meniscus last winter. Though surgery repaired the cartilage, it never healed right. After gutting out volleyball season last fall and earning county Player of the Year honors, she opted for another surgery to remove scar tissue.

"The girls rally behind her. They love her - she's their leader," Shannon said of Axtell.

Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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