The first SoMeck 4A girls’ basketball regular-season title is Ardrey Kell’s.
The Knights wrapped up next week’s tournament top seed with a 63-56 win against Charlotte Catholic on the Cougars’ home floor, to improve to 13-0 in league games with one to play. Ardrey Kell controlled the tempo throughout but had to put down a late Catholic rally to cement the regular-season sweep.
“I think the kids worked really hard, and they deserve it,” Knights coach Jennifer McVicker said. “They followed the game plan, and we’re pretty talented. It’s something they had in the back of their minds, and we’ve got one to go and you never know what might happen.”
Ardrey Kell (19-4) won with offensive balance. Five Knights scored in double figures, with Erin Whalen leading the way with 15 points, including eight in the first quarter to propel Ardrey Kell to a 15-12 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Marshae Bradbury added 12 points and Raven Dean, Chase Muhammad and Jordan Muhammad chipped in 10 each. Catholic guard Sophie Rossitch paced all scorers with 30 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter.
“We have this motto of fearlessness and I thought we played that way to start, and I thought we played that way to finish,” Cougars coach Robert Conrad said. “Then we had that lull in the middle when we got caught looking up at the score and trying to make too many things happen at once and it ballooned.”
Ardrey Kell led 52-35 on Jordan Muhammad’s basket midway through the fourth quarter, but Catholic (15-7, 10-2) didn’t fold, reeling off a 15-4 run to make it a six-point game with 61 seconds left. Ardrey Kell countered by making 7 of 10 free throws to slam the door.
“They have a good team, and they really competed,” McVicker said. “That’s what I want my team to do – compete.”
Whalen, Dean and Chase Muhammad combined for 21 of Ardrey Kell’s 34 first-half points as the Knights punished Catholic in the paint. The Knights stuck with that formula in the second half to offset Rossitch’s 19-point outburst to keep the Cougars in the hunt. In the end, Ardrey Kell had more weapons and depth.
“The reality is they went on that run at the end of the third quarter when (Catholic’s starters) had been out there for a while,” Conrad said. “It probably played a big factor. They were probably pretty fresh.”
Ardrey Kell (19-4, 13-0) – Erin Whalen 15, Marshae Bradbury 12, Raven Dean 10, Chase Muhammad 10, Jordan Muhammad 10, Gilmore 2, McCain 2.
Charlotte Catholic (15-7, 10-2) – Sophie Rossitch 30, Eberle 7, Dudzinski 6, Ferraro 5, Roulier 4, Little 2, Samuelson 2.
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