By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 9, 2010; D04
Tyaunna Marshall was all set to begin her high school career four years ago at Wise in Upper Marlboro when first-year Elizabeth Seton Coach Jazz Perazic asked her to take a chance. The Roadrunners were a last-place program that hadn't won a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title in five years.
Perazic "came to me and asked me to give them a chance," Marshall said "I just wanted to play basketball."
Four years later, Marshall left the court at American University's Bender Arena clutching the WCAC championship trophy to her chest after scoring 30 points to lead No. 10 Seton to a 74-63 victory Monday night over No. 5 St. John's, earning the school's first title since 2001 and capping a remarkable turnaround from the season prior to Marshall's arrival, when the Roadrunners won just five games.
What Perazic, an all-American at Maryland in the early 1980s, sold her players over the past four years was a complete brand of basketball: Being able to excel in the half court and transition, from the perimeter and the low post. The Roadrunners (22-6) displayed their entire repertoire against St. John's (23-6).
After the teams engaged in terrific end-to-end action the first five minutes, Seton pulled away. Holding a 13-12 lead, the Roadrunners scored the final 10 points of the first quarter, beginning with a short bank shot from Marshall. Seton scored on 10 of its 12 first-quarter possessions.
"They didn't miss," St. John's Coach Jonathan Scribner said. "They shot the lights out. Then, when you have a player like [Marshall], she's just on another level."
Marshall, who has committed to play for Georgia Tech, was superb in the open court, using her game-breaking speed to beat Cadets downcourt for layups. She also displayed terrific poise and touch -- her soft jumper in the lane just before the second-quarter buzzer that gave Seton a 35-24 lead.
"She has turned into a great, great player," Perazic said of the development of Marshall, who led the team in scoring in each of her four seasons.
St. John's struggled against Seton's physical play and Perazic said it was important to match her bigger players such as Weatherly and senior Alexis Martin against some of the smaller Cadets and give them a little extra contact on the way to the hoop.
St. John's cut it to 65-59 with 1 minute 19 seconds left on a layup by Nicola Zimmer. But Seton hit 9 of 10 free throws the rest of the way to clinch a celebration that was years in the making.
"I really couldn't picture this four years ago," Marshall said.
Up next: Elizabeth Seton will play H.D. Woodson in the City Title Game on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Verizon Center. A league of many: Seton is the fourth different girls' WCAC champion in as many seasons.