Arundel center Sheronne Vails moves between Urbana defenders… (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy…)
With 6-foot-4 All-Metro forward Sheronne Vails, Arundel's girls basketball team is best known for its inside game. But in Thursday's state semifinal, the Wildcats showed off the perimeter game that often makes Vails' job a little easier.
Talen Watson, Aleisha Henderson and Ariel Ross combined for 30 points - many from outside - and Vails added 14 as the No. 5 Wildcats defeated Urbana, 52-42, in a state Class 4A semifinal at UMBC's RAC Arena.
"I think feeding the ball in to Sheronne first, letting her get settled and then when the defense collapses on her, we have a lot of 3-point shooters, such as Ariel and Aleisha, so we were able to play an inside-outside game, which was key," Watson said.
It didn't hurt that Vails blocked two shots in the first two minutes of the game and the Wildcats' man-to-man defense held the Hawks' top scorer, 6-foot forward Kristen Juenger, scoreless in the first half.
The Wildcats, who will meet Gaithersburg in Saturday's 3 p.m. title game, used their balanced scoring to build a 30-15 lead with a 17-3 run capped by Watson's 3-pointer two minutes into the third quarter.
Urbana (20-5) struggled against the man-to-man, especially with Vails grabbing eight of her 10 rebounds on the defensive end and blocking eight shots for a new school career record of 347.
Hawks coach Chris Krivos said the Wildcats did nothing his team didn't expect.
"I thought we had a shot at halftime only being down seven," he said. "We just didn't make enough shots and they did. There was, I guess, a four- or five-minute period where Vails just took over in the paint and as soon as they took her out of there we did OK in the paint, too, but until that point we didn't get anything force-feeding it in."
Early in the fourth quarter with Vails on the bench for a rest, the Hawks cut the lead to 41-30 on three baskets from Juenger, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. When Vails and 6-foot Briana McKellery returned to the game, they took over inside, combining for eight points down the stretch while Watson hit three free throws in the final two minutes.
Gaithersburg 46, Wise 44 OT: The Trojans rallied from 16 points down and survived the loss of sister guards Kara and Colleen Marshall, who fouled out in the fourth quarter, to upset the Pumas (25-1), The Washington Post's No. 2 team.
Tiarra Smith tied the game for Wise on a pair of free throws with 43.1 seconds left, but Sarah Seipp and Octavia Scott hit one free throw apiece to seal the victory.
U - Kordell 1, Mason 10, Krivos 10, Himes 5, Juenger 10, Carper 3, Lillo 3. Totals 16 5-10 42.
A - Watson 15, Henderson 7, Ross 8, B.McKellery 8, Vails 14. Totals 18 12-20 52. Half: A, 22-15.