Raiders have no an­swer for Cadets’ Daniels

FRED­ER­ICK 72, ATHOLTON 60

The Washington Post Sunday - - ALLMETSPORTS.COM - BY ERIC GOLDWEIN eric.goldwein@wash­post.com

tow­son, md. — As Atholton hud­dled for a time­out, a crowd that had been quiet for most of the fourth quar­ter let out a roar. Francesca Vane­gas found Ryan Jones for a fast-break layup mo­ments ear­lier, and a dou­bledigit deficit was sud­denly a six-point game.

The Raiders had a glim­mer of hope head­ing into the fi­nal stretch of the Mary­land 3A fi­nal against Fred­er­ick, and had the run come ear­lier, they might have fared dif­fer­ently than a 72-60 loss Satur­day night at Tow­son Univer­sity’s SECU Arena.

Ul­ti­mately, the Raiders (20-6) ran out of an­swers for Fred­er­ick’s Makayla Daniels, who scored 47 points on 22 field goal at­tempts to lead the Cadets (28-2).

The Raiders were rid­ing a six-game win­ning streak and a red-hot tour­na­ment run after beat­ing Mil­ford Mill, 61-54, in Thurs­day’s semi­fi­nal. On Satur­day, their quest for a sec­ond state ti­tle ended with a come­back at­tempt that fell a few shots short.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Vane­gas said. “We were un­der­es­ti­mated this sea­son, and we came out and played our game and proved a lot of peo­ple wrong.”

Jones had 25 points, and Vane­gas added 20 to lead the Raiders. With about two min­utes re­main­ing, Jones con­verted a layup while get­ting fouled, mak­ing the free throw to get Atholton within four points.

Atholton scored the game’s first six points be­fore Fred­er­ick went on an 18-5 run to es­tab­lish the lead. Daniels took over with a 20-point first half, clos­ing with a step-back three-pointer, then a dizzy­ing cross­over and drive into the lane for a layup that gave the Cadets a 39-29 lead at in­ter­mis­sion.

“We just knew she was a good over­all player and a good at­tacker. We tried our best to do what we came here to do,” Jones said. “We’re both good teams. It’s a game of runs, and they just had a bet­ter run.”

Atholton spent the sec­ond half play­ing catch up. Vane­gas, who had nine steals, said it was the de­fense that brought the Raiders back into the game.

“We kept our hands up a lot, and we were look­ing more for the steals,” Vane­gas said.

But with ev­ery Atholton bucket they scored, the Cadets re­sponded. After the Raiders went on a 6-0 run late in the third quar­ter, Daniels con­verted a layup while get­ting fouled and made the free throw to ex­tend the Cadets’ lead to dou­ble fig­ures in the fourth.

That was enough to stave off Atholton’s come­back bid. With the game out of reach, Vane­gas ex­ited the game in the fi­nal minute and took a seat at the end of the bench, putting her hands over her teary eyes.

After the game, the se­nior duo of Jones and Daniels sat at the podium for a news con­fer­ence and an­swered ques­tions for the fi­nal time as Atholton team­mates.

“It’s sad, but that’s how life goes. One chap­ter closes, but an­other one opens,” Jones said.

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