During the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO) 25th Annual Girls Invitational Christmas Tournament at Prince George's Community College last night, Arundel was sitting comfortably on an early 14-point lead.
The Wildcats were getting solid offensive production in the paint, and their 1-2-1-1 full-court press defense was causing loads of turnovers by their opponent, Largo of Prince George's County.
But Largo chipped away at the lead - even tying the game late - before a furious fourth quarter, with Arundel slipping away with a 67-57 victory.
"We had too many turnovers; we panicked and got excited," Arundel coach Lee Rogers said. "Hopefully, we can do better tomorrow, but this was still a step in the right direction."
No. 4 Arundel (3-2) will face Riverdale Baptist tonight at 8 in the semifinals.
Arundel was up 21-7 after the first quarter, but Largo hung tough, and after back-and-forth play in the middle quarters, the Wildcats were up 43-36 going into the fourth.
Largo opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run in a 1-minute, 18-second span, tying the game. Momentum really swung in their favor when 5-foot-9 guard Tiara Smith (13 points) blocked a shot by Arundel 6-3 center Simone Egwu, bringing fans to their feet.
The Lady Lions couldn't sustain their high level of play for long. Arundel countered with a six-point run, and with a 54-50 lead, scored 10 unanswered points, including two three-pointers by Dedre Moore, to put the game away.
"We had to get the ball to our playmakers," Rogers said. "Other guys stepped up too, and it helped us get the lead back. We get excited, but it's a process."
Egwu was a force inside, scoring 14 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. Sherone Vails had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Talen Watson made an impact on both ends of the floor, with 11 points, five assists and four steals.
In the later game, No. 2 St. Frances went basket for basket with Riverdale Baptist of Prince George's County for most of the game, but lost, 55-43.
The score was tied at 41 late in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Crusaders sparked a timely 10-point run that sealed the victory.
Shatyra Hawkes had 12 points and five rebounds for St. Frances (8-1). Briana Hutchen and Kandice Green added 10 points each.
Ataira Franklin scored a game-high 24 points for Riverdale Baptist. Rahneeka Saunders added nine points and five steals.
The Lady Panthers play Largo today at 4 p.m. in the consolation bracket.