Western shakes Arundel in second half, wins 51-33 4A GIRLS BASKETBALL


There were no tears and no excuses.

For one half of yesterday's Class 4A state final at UMBC, No. 3-ranked and second-seeded Arundel showed it not only belonged there, it also had every intention of winning.

Then came the next 16 minutes, and complete domination by No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Western.

Proving too tall, too fast and too set on defending its state title, the Doves recovered from a 19-17 halftime deficit and handed Arundel its first loss, 51-33.

Western coach Breezy Bishop told her players after the second quarter to get the ball to All-American forward Chanel Wright, and the rest would take care of itself.

Wright, a 6-foot senior, owned the game after that, scoring 19 of her 24 points and grabbing 11 of her 16 rebounds. Her follow tied the score, 19-19, and the first of her back-to-back three-point plays gave Western the lead for good, 24-23, with 4:32 left in the quarter. She scored on another follow, making it 30-23, and Arundel didn't get its first field goal of the half until Jen Mottar's basket inside with 1:03 left in the third.

Wright closed the quarter with another put-back -- a common source of offense for the Doves (26-0) -- and the lead continued to expand from there, mainly because of Arundel's inability to keep Western off the boards.

"We felt at halftime we had a chance, but then they outplayed us," said Arundel coach Lee Rogers, whose team was out-rebounded, 44-24. "They came out a little bit more aggressive and we just played flat. We needed two good halves, but they put pressure on us and we made mistakes. But we live and grow."

The first half did nothing but encourage the Wildcats (25-1). They scored first on a jumper by Kara Kitchen and reclaimed the lead three more times. They limited Western to seven of 33 shooting from the field, effectively broke the Doves' press and looked as if they could survive an off-day from 5-11 junior Chavonne Hammond, who had scored just one point, but also blocked five shots.

"They started to speed us up and we started throwing away a lot of passes," said Mottar. "They have a lot of tall people. Chavonne and I do the best we can to get the rebounds, but you can only jump so high."

Bishop said conditioning and aggressive defense had as much to do with her team's resurgence as Wright, who will play at North Carolina next year.

"We pressured them because they have outstanding three-point shooters," she said. "We knew we couldn't just lay back in a zone. When we play a zone, it makes my team lazy. Also, we felt if we kept that pressure on them, in the third quarter they $H wouldn't have any legs, and that's what happened."

Senior guard Kim Smith, who has signed with Georgetown, had only seven points, but her quickness and passing gave Arundel fits most of the afternoon.

Mottar led Arundel with 12 points and added five rebounds and two steals. Hammond, whose first field goal didn't come until 6:36 remained, scored seven points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked six shots.

The Wildcats were hurt by 18 turnovers and six of 15 shooting from the line. They were held to six points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth.

"There are no seniors, it's a young team, and maybe the pressure got to them," Rogers said. "We did some things we normally don't do. But we learn from that."

The Doves, who had won their games by an average margin of 39 points coming in, went up 47-27 with 3:10 left, and 51-27 on follows by Wright and Keita Moore. Arundel then scored the final six points on baskets by Hammond (two) and Sherice Proctor in the last 1:45.

Afterward, the Western players, coaches and statisticians went to the Arundel bench to shake hands. The Wildcats hadn't won the game, but they won some respect.

"We got here faster than I thought we would," Rogers said. "They have nothing to be ashamed of. I don't think you'll see any tears from these kids. They're confident they'll be back here next year."

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