McDonogh, the defending Association of Independent Schools A Division regular-season and tournament champion, used speed and quickness to establish early supremacy and breezed past visiting C. Milton Wright, 59-31, in both teams' opener yesterday.
The No. 6 Eagles, with seven holdovers from a 17-5 team, including All-Metro Vicki Brick among three returning starters, simply overwhelmed their Harford County opponents.
McDonough had 35 steals and dominated the backboards, pTC despite the presence of three 6-footers who rotated in and out of the lineup for No. 16 Wright.
One of those, 6-foot-4 senior Nicole Nimmo, had the game's first basket, but by the time she got the Mustangs' second field goal at the end of the quarter, her side was down, 16-9, and not to get closer.
Brick, a 5-6 sophomore, was sick Thursday and did not start after missing that practice but was an early substitute. Although given some rest as she battled a 102-degree fever, she was around enough to score 23 and contribute seven steals and five assists.
Junior teammates Shani Moore (5-11) and Mary Burton (5-9) had 15 points each; Moore added eight rebounds (seven offensive); Jazmine Norton had seven steals, and Ellen Haller six rebounds.
Nimmo, with five baskets and 11 points, was the only one of the losers with more than two baskets or four points.
"We've been working on our defense for the last three weeks," said McDonogh coach Seth Kushkin. "We want to pressure the ball and make our defense create our offense."
They certainly had too much for Wright's first three guards, none of whom came in with varsity experience. As the game developed, not only did they have trouble getting the ball up-court, but when they did, no one showed the outside shooting of last year's group that led the Mustangs to 22 straight wins before a loss in the state Class 3A semifinals.
"We had scrimmaged them last year, so I knew about their height," Kushkin added. "We wanted to concentrate on keeping her [Nimmo] off the boards." They succeeded nicely by fronting her and bringing an off-side player in behind to challenge when she turned around.
The 31 points were the fewest scored by Wright since a 59-30 home-loss to Fallston on Jan. 11, 1994 -- a span of 57 games.
Brick (12), Urban (11), and Moore (nine) accounted for all but two of McDonogh's first-half points, as it raced to a 34-17 lead. The Eagles' largest lead came with 3: 50 left, 57-25. Wright was unable to put two consecutive baskets together until the last three minutes of the third quarter. At that point, the margin was 44-23.
A scary thought for future McDonogh opponents: The squad has no seniors.
Pub Date: 12/07/96