By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 15, 2010; D01
The girls' City Title Game started off as a game of one-on-one. In the end, only Elizabeth Seton's Tyaunna Marshall was still standing.
Marshall, a Georgia Tech recruit, and H.D. Woodson's Ronika Ransford, who is headed to Georgia, dueled into the second half before Ransford banged her head on the court and left with a concussion midway through the third quarter. The Warriors failed to convert a field goal after the All-Met's departure and the fifth-ranked Roadrunners pulled away for a 51-30 victory Sunday afternoon before an estimated 3,500 at Verizon Center.
Seton (24-8) capped a remarkable turnaround from winning just five games four years ago to claiming its first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and City titles since 2001.
No. 10 Woodson (21-6), meantime, was denied its chance to become the first girls' team to win three consecutive City Titles.
The game started with all the makings of a showdown between two of the area's top guards. Ransford scored all 13 of Woodson's first-quarter points; Marshall had 12 of Seton's first 20 points. Woodson took a 24-22 lead into intermission and the stage appeared set.
Their battle, however, took a game-changing turn with 3 minutes 57 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Ransford drove hard into the lane, lost her footing and slammed her forehead on the hardwood.
Seton led 32-26 at the time. Ransford stayed down for about five minutes, and staggered uneasily to the Woodson bench with the help of team trainer Jennifer Rheeling. She sat briefly with an ice pack on her forehead.
Rheeling knew Ransford had suffered a concussion and told her, "I'm sorry, but there's no way I can let you back into this game."
Ransford looked back at her and said, "I know I can't go."
"I would have played if I had one leg," said Ransford, who was taken to Children's Hospital afterward, "but I couldn't see straight."
Without Ransford, the Warriors couldn't shoot straight. Woodson managed just four free throws the rest of the game.
Seton, however, had already begun changing the complexion of the contest coming out of halftime. The Roadrunners began changing up their defensive alignments, switching from man-to-man to zone, and it seemed to catch the Warriors off-guard.
Ransford came in averaging 24.2 points. Her exit left the Warriors not only without their best all-around player, but also the one who dictates their offense, leads their full-court pressure and commands the attention of all five opposing players, no matter which one is assigned to guard her.
"They got deflated," said Marshall, who finished with team-highs of 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, "and when they got deflated we got inflated."
Marshall started getting some help. Melanie Royster hit a nice turnaround in the lane. Alyssa Albanese sneaked in for a steal, poked the ball over to Marshall, who fed it back to Albanese for a layup to put Seton up 40-30, and even though 5 1/2 minutes were left in the game, the outcome was all but sealed. Woodson went scoreless in the fourth quarter.
"Tyaunna is awesome," Seton Coach Jazz Perazic said, "but a lot of our points come from our other players moving around or at least being a threat."
Ransford, whose headache was only worsened by the Verizon Center lights and the crowd noise, left the bench at the start of the fourth quarter (though she returned later). Her teammates looked empty without her.
"She's the leader and it's tough to see her go out like that," Woodson Coach Frank Oliver said.