Title is Arundel's again

Wildcats use 2nd-half surge to top Meade, 55-42

March 06, 2010|By Katherine Dunn | katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

At halftime of Friday night's close Class 3A East regional championship, the No. 7 Arundel girls basketball players talked about the importance of starting the second half with a big surge against Anne Arundel County rival and No. 8 Meade.

Tiffany Grant got them started with a 3-pointer from the corner, sparking a 9-2 run that gave the Wildcats a 13-point lead and plenty of room to hold off a late Meade rally for a 55-42 victory and their third regional championship in four years.

"We talked in the locker room about how we had to come out with more fire," said Wildcats' senior guard Talen Watson, "because the last couple of games, even though we've won, we still didn't have a strong third quarter. We talked about how the team to come out strong in the third quarter will get the lead."

By the time Ariel Ross hit a pull-up jumper with 5:24 to go in the quarter, the visiting Wildcats led 37-24.

That run and the consistent play of 6-foot-4 senior forward Sheronne Vails were too much for the Mustangs to counter. Vails finished with 26 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocks. She hit all 10 of her free throws and scored 10 points - all on field goals - in the third quarter.

The Mustangs, who got 11 points and 16 rebounds from Nicole Dixon, sprung a press on Arundel in the fourth quarter and started chipping a 14-point Wildcats' lead down to 48-40 on Jamie McKeither's follow shot with 4:52 to go. But the Mustangs (22-2) could get no closer.

"We just started doing a lot more pressing with our zone press defense. When the team started pressing, we started building more chemistry and that helped us create some turnovers," said Meade coach Reggie Leach, whose team suffered its only two losses to Arundel.

The Wildcats (21-4) advance to the state semifinals for the 10th time and will meet the winner of Friday night's North regional semifinal between Urbana and Thomas Johnson Thursday at UMBC. They finished their third straight season without a loss to an Anne Arundel County opponent.

A - Watson 9, Henderson 2, Grant 8, Ross 7, McKellery 3, Vails 26. Totals 18 17-24 55.

M - Bailey 6, McKeither 8, Chambliss 9, Carter 5, Presley 3, Dixon 11. Totals 12 17-25 42. Half: A, 28-22.

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