About this time every year, junior college basketball coaches begin to cringe with fear about losing their players to academic ineligibility.
It's also a time when wear and tear on players begins to takeits toll, often wreaking havoc on battle-worn bodies. An abundance of players to draw from becomes of utmost importance -- ask both the Anne Arundel Community College and Montgomery-Rockville College women's basketball teams.
Together, both teams fielded just 13 players as the Pioneers "Seven" pounded the even more depleted Knights "Six" squad, 78-40, Saturday evening.
Anne Arundel used the man-to-man, full-court press to perfection, allowing it to pull away from its hosts with a 23-6 run between the 17:30 and 8:23 marks of the first half.
During the game-breaking stretch, which gave the Pioneers a 28-12 cushion, AACC high-scorer Katie Laidley sank three straight baseline jumpers in addition to going 3-for-4 from the foul line. The sophomore guard brought her consecutive field goal total to five on her way to a 28-point, eight-rebound outing.
"We just ran into a buzz saw today," said Montgomery coach Dutch Hahn. "We hadn't run up against a man-to-man press this year. But we knew it was coming, we practiced against it. They were just too good overall."
"The press worked really well for us, but I think another key to our success was our shooting," said Anne Arundel coach Tom Smith. "Lately, we haven't been shooting that well, but today they looked a lot better."
Smith noted that the score mayhave been a little closer if the Knights had the services of star guard Marcy Segura, who was sidelined with a knee injury.
Missing from the AACC lineup were starting freshman swingman Stephanie Sweetmanand sophomore front-court players Rhonda DeShaw and Melody Miller. Sweetman is lost for the year due to academic ineligibility, DeShaw isvisiting family in Texas, and Miller injured her knee.
"Stephaniewas a big loss. She does so many different things for us. We're going to miss her aggressiveness and versatility," said Smith, whose teamimproved to 4-3 overall, 3-0 in the Maryland JUCO conference.
Point guard Stacy Dent picked up the slack for the winners, posting 15 points and six rebounds. She was a total nuisance to theRockville offensive scheme.
"Stacy played a heck of a ballgame," Smith said. "We've been trying to get her to look to score more. But the trouble is,she's so unselfish. Sometimes she'll be five feet away from the basket with a good shot, and she'll still dish the ball off.
"But she gives it 100 percent all of the time, and she's so aggressive. That'swhy the press worked so well, because she's always there scrapping and hustling for the ball."
After taking a 42-20 lead into intermission, the Pioneers continued to press the 2-5 Knights into submission, taking their biggest lead of the night (76-35) on two free throws by Jen Rickard with less than two minutes in the game.
Sarah Krucoff added 10 points to the AACC cause, while Nikki Beall and Ann Heiserchipped in nine and seven points respectively. Beall and Heiser alsohad eight and five rebounds, respectively.
Roe Gordon paced Montgomery with 11 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Bim Adeboyeku tallied nine points. Natalie Vest contributed eight points along with a game-high 13 rebounds before fouling out with more than 14 minutes remaining.
Anne Arundel faces Howard Community College at home tomorrow, 4 p.m., and travels to Catonsville Thursday for a 6 p.m. game.