"The timing of when I came to high school and the timing of them adding the three-point line helped me be successful. It opened up the court. It allowed smaller shooters to do well," said the 5-foot-1 (and a smidgen) point guard, who graduated as the county's best career three-point shooter (182 made).

McCauley missed much of her freshman year of high school with a back injury. After Mt. Hebron senior point guard Amy Eberhart tore her ACL in the playoffs, the freshman got her first start in the 1990 state championship game against Middletown. The defending champions' fans hooted "this isn't the JV game" when she took the court.

"Erica hit two three-pointers in the first quarter and the rout was on," said Dave Greenberg, Mt. Hebron's coach at the time.

The Vikings won the Class 2A state title game, 59-35.

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With McCauley starting full time, Mt. Hebron repeated as state champion in 1991.

"Erica was the very essence of a point guard," Greenberg said. "She was very smart, understood the game and she had the skills. It was like having a coach on the floor."

McCauley could handle the ball and dribble with her head up.

"We never had to worry about being pressured and that's a humongous advantage. We just had to get the ball to her," Greenberg said. "And if they would go man (defense) and pressure her, it was like giving us an advantage."

Mt. Hebron went 88-10 during McCauley's years on the team. The Vikings won four county championships, two state championships, the IAABO Holiday Tournament her junior year and the Madison (Va.) Warhawks Tournament her senior year. She was named MVP of both tournaments.

She was named Howard County girls basketball co-Player of the Year in 1991 and 1993. She was also a three-time Baltimore Sun All-Met first team pick, and twice an All-Metro first team pick by the Washington Post.

In addition to her three-point shooting, she finished high school ranked as Mt. Hebron's third all-time scorer (1,074 points), second all-time in assists (319) and third all-time in steals (339).

When she graduated, her jersey (No. 34) was retired.

Her basketball prowess and her academic skills combined to open the door to the Ivy League.

"My father always told me that he wanted basketball to get me the best education possible."

She chose the University of Pennsylvania. "There (were) people there who were brilliant. I was a little intimidated by the academics, but I did fine. I'm a hard worker."

She was the first off the bench her freshman year at Penn. By her sophomore year, she had a starting position and was All Ivy honorable mention. She also broke her hand and sustained a concussion.

Midway through her junior year, McCauley knew she was at an academic crossroad, and she decided to pursue her hopes of getting into graduate school.

"When basketball is the biggest part of your life, it is very challenging not to have it," she said. "My biggest coping strategy had always been to go out and shoot and play. I had to learn who I was without basketball."

McCauley studied communications and business at Penn, but at her sister's urging, she decided to go into speech language pathology and now has a master's degree from San Diego State University in that subject.

She works for the Anne Arundel County Infant and Toddler's Program as a speech-language pathologist.