Arundel coach Lee Rogers wasn't disappointed with his team's play inyesterday's 41-37 girls basketball loss to visiting Bay Division rival Broadneck.
Rogers wore a smile on his face after the game, but so did the Bruins' 5-foot-7 guard Ava Tasker. She went 7-for-9 from the field in scoring her game-high 16 points for Broadneck (12-3, 5-1), ranked No. 7 by The Baltimore Sun.
Rogers no doubt would have been a tad happier if he could have slowed her down.
He admitted paying more attention to Tasker's 6-1 teammate, Jen Chapman, who was coming off a 16-point, 13-rebound performance with two blocks in a 51-47 loss to Old Mill. Chapman, who already has accepted a full scholarship to the University of Vermont, finished with nine points and eight boards.
"We did a good job on theinside," said Rogers, whose Wildcats went to 9-7 (3-3 in the division). "But we couldn't stop (Tasker) from scoring on the perimeter."
It seemed whenever the Bruins were in trouble, Tasker (five rebounds, three assists) was there to bail them out.
"They disguised theirmatchup zone well, but I knew we could get Ava open to hit a couple," said Broadneck coach Bruce Springer, whose Bruins face South River on Feb. 11. "When we needed her, Ava just came through in the clutch."
Tasker started by scoring half of the Bruins' 12 points in the first quarter -- all on baseline jumpers -- to help Broadneck to a four-point lead heading into the second.
Broadneck led 17-14 at the intermission, thanks to poor first-half shooting from both squads: TheBruins made only eight-of-22 attempts from the field, the Wildcats just six of 18.
But Arundel tightened its defense on Tasker in the third period, closing to within one, 22-21, behind the play of juniorVirginia Gonski, who finished with seven points, and senior Mary PatFannon (six).
Tasker adjusted midway through the period, however,twice feeding Chapman, who had five points in that frame, and dishing another to backcourt mate Michelle Meyer (eight points).
The Bruins stayed ahead, 31-24, going into the final session.
"I saw thatthey were going to start playing me tougher, so I felt if I could penetrate just a little, then I could find someone underneath," said Tasker, who averaged a team-high 9.7 points entering the contest. "I just felt like my shot was on tonight, and the strokes was just there, I guess."
Guess who was there in the end?
After Long had gone inside to bring the Wildcats within two, 39-37, Tasker sank a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left for the winning margin.
Rogers expressed satisfaction because of his 15 players, which include just four seniors, nine scored. One of his two starting seniors, 5-foot-10 Latoy Long, had 10 points and six rebounds.
"I can deal with this kind of loss, because we gave a good effort," said Rogers, whose Wildcats next face division rival Southern (10-5, 5-1), a 62-51 winner over Northeast yesterday.