Ritcey lends guiding touch to F. S. Key's girls team

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Lost in the shuffle of a remarkable girls basketball season in the county has been the steady play of senior Maureen Ritcey.

She isn't part of the magical, 21-game run the Cavaliers are enjoying in Winfield. And she doesn't play on the talented Westminster team that has maintained a ranking in the metro poll for the entire season.

Ritcey can be found in the northwest part of the county, scoring, grabbing rebounds and racking up steals and assists for a young Francis Scott Key program. That's only the start of what she provides on the hardwood at Key.

"She's been like a big teacher. The influence she's had on the court this season has been so positive and the younger kids have learned so much," said Key first-year coach Alice Smith. "Parents and players both have come up to me at one time or another this season and said how much they've learned from Maureen. That's what she's done most for our program."

Ritcey, who has played mostly small forward, has had her role adjusted every season since starting on varsity as a sophomore in the 1992-93 season under former coach Brian Hollingsworth. Back then, she still got her share of points on a team that featured the most talented backcourt -- Erin Murphey and Shelley Smith -- in school history.

When Murphey and Smith moved on to Western Maryland the following year, Ritcey had to pick up the slack for both. This season under Smith, Ritcey is the only senior on a team full of promising underclassmen. The 10 other players with her this season played on Smith's junior varsity team last year.

"It's been a major overhaul," Ritcey said. "My biggest goal was to enjoy my last year of playing and that part hasn't been hard, we all get along so well. This team definitely has incredible potential. This year, I helped them move to the varsity level and tried to get them ready for the next couple of years."

With three games left in her high school career, Ritcey goes into tonight's game at South Hagerstown averaging better than 11 points and five rebounds a game for the 6-13 Eagles this season. She has 546 career points and over 250 rebounds.

"She's very consistent. We count on her to take control and, down the stretch, she's the one who wants the ball to try to produce," Smith said. "She's very aggressive and comes ready to play and the other players follow."

Her basketball success is only a taste of what she's accomplished at Francis Scott Key, where she maintains a 4.0 grade point average and is a member of the chorus. Last fall, she was a key element in the Eagles' state playoff run in volleyball and was selected a first-team, all-county player for her efforts. Once basketball is through, she'll take to the tennis court for her third season on varsity.

It isn't difficult to understand how she's had so much success in each after she quickly answers which one is her favorite: "I really enjoy switching from one to the other and the one I'm playing at the time is always my favorite," she says, and then adds, "I also look forward to the next one."

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