Kisha Ford, Sonia Chase, Chanel Wright and Alisha Mosley will come to Charlotte, N.C., for this weekend's Atlantic Coast Conference women's tournament with differing perspectives, skill levels and collegiate basketball experiences, but they're all from the same place -- Baltimore.
In their own way this season, this quartet of former Charm City standouts has had some impact in making the ACC perhaps the best women's basketball conference. And each will play a significant role in whether her respective team -- Georgia Tech (Ford), Maryland (Chase), North Carolina (Wright) or Wake Forest (Mosely) -- makes any noise in the tournament, which opened with last night's play-in game between the Deacons and Florida State, won by Wake, 70-59.
"There's a lot of good females coming out of Baltimore and going to these big colleges and putting Baltimore on the map," said Wright, a 6-foot sophomore. "A lot of females will start looking at our conference because we have a really good conference. The ACC is very competitive, and I'm glad that a lot of good players are going to these ACC schools."
Mosely had 12 points in last night's win, including the clutch three-pointer with three minutes to go that gave the Deacons a secure six-point lead. The eighth-seeded Deacons will meet Wright's Tar Heels in today's second quarterfinal game.
Other Baltimore-area players have stood out in the ACC's recent history. Maryland's Dafne Lee (Walbrook) is 15th on the school's all-time rebounding list and fourth in games played, while Virginia's Melanee Wagener (South Carroll) was a key reserve on two Final Four teams.
And there are players from Baltimore scattered through the big Ford time this year. The Big East, for instance, has six area players on its rosters, and freshmen Chavonne Hammond (Arundel) and Jennifer Holmes (Severna Park) have contributed key minutes this year for Vanderbilt of the Southeastern Conference.
But there has never been such a collection of Baltimore talent in a premier conference at the same time.
Ford, a senior, is the all-time leading scorer in Yellow Jackets history with 1,936 points, and became the first Baltimorean to be selected as a first-team All-ACC player this week. She also finished third in conference Player of the Year voting. Chase, a junior, is fourth on the Terps' all-time steals list with 218 and she also led Maryland in assists this season.
Wright (Western) was last year's ACC Rookie of the Year, and is the third-leading scorer on a team that went 15-1 in league play this year, while Mosley, a freshman, was second at Wake in assists and led the Deacons to a 63-59 win over Florida State last Sunday with 16 points.
"We have some very good talent coming out of Baltimore every year and the ACC is very well represented by Baltimore," said Ford, a 6-foot senior. "We have great relationships. I'm happy that everybody is doing well. I just hope they don't do well against us."
Ford, Wright and Chase seemed to save their best for their area competition.
Wright had a team-high 22 points in a 75-71 win over Wake and Mosley hit two long three-point shots to break open a close game against Maryland earlier this month. Ford had 31 points and six rebounds against the Deacons in her final home game, but Chase single-handedly shut her down four days later in the second half of last week's 73-68 win over the Yellow Jackets, which hobbled their NCAA tournament hopes.
Mosley, who holds 11 school records at Mount Hebron High, suffered the ups and downs of a freshman on a last-place team. Forced into the starting lineup late in the season because of injuries and dismissals, the 5-7 point guard struggled at times, but came on as the season progressed.
"The ACC is a little more intense than I expected," Mosley said. "Every team is aggressive every night. You don't know what to expect."
The same could be said for this weekend's tournament.
The fourth-seeded Terps, at 18-8 and 9-7 in the league, forged a three-way tie for third with two wins last week and appear to have locked up an NCAA tournament bid -- their first in four years. But Maryland could run smack into North Carolina in the semifinals if it turns back Duke today.
Georgia Tech is in the most precarious position, with a 15-12 overall record and a 7-9 mark in the league. Tech likely needs to reach the finals to have a chance at an NCAA bid, which would be the first of Ford's career.
"Kisha's done a tremendous credit for women's basketball, even if she hasn't gone to nationals," Chase said. "It would be nice for her to experience a national tournament. It's kind of unfortunate, but that's the way it goes."
Pride of Baltimore
A look at the statistics of the four Baltimore area players who are starting for teams in the ACC Tournament:
Player, team Min. Pts. FG Pct. FT Pct. Reb. Ast. Stl
Sonia Chase, Md., 33.2, 10.5, .434, .614, 6.5, 4.0, 2.2
Kisha Ford, Ga. Tech, 37.0, 20.4, .508, .699, 8.6, 2.9, 2.4
Alisha Mosley, W. Forest, 19.4, 6.5, .344, .786, 2.2, 1.4, 0.6
Chanel Wright, UNC, 32.1, 15.5, .453, .645, 5.2, 3.6, 1.9
Pub Date: 2/28/97