Severna Park girls basketball coach Bill Giblin knows what he has in senior guard Natalie Hicks--a slasher with an attitude. "She has the attitude that when push comes to shove, she's going to do something about it," Giblin said.

Push came to shove last night at Arundel, and Hicks responded by scoring 16 points, including two decisive free throws in the final 90 seconds, to lift the Falcons to a 54-52 victory in a matchup of two of the top teams in Anne Arundel County.

"Natalie took charge in the second half," Giblin said. "She's a slasher. . . . Her two blocked shots were huge. She's our all-around most complete player. She can do it on defense and offense."

The 5-foot-9 Hicks, who displayed strong offensive moves, added seven rebounds and was 7-for-13 shooting.

The win pushed Severna Park to 10-3, 8-0, and extended its winning streak to nine games. The Wildcats fell to 11-2, 7-1.

The Falcons went to a 2-3 zone in the second half, which allowed them to better control the tempo and force Arundel into 8-of-22 shooting.

"We have a lot of defenses and we try to switch them as much as we can and the zone worked," Hicks said. "We handled their pressure and we played our tempo."

The game's first half was a different story. Arundel took a 33-31 lead into halftime behind a stifling full-court press and strong inside play by junior forward Tracy Pucci (15 points).

The Wildcats, outrebounded 12-7 in the second half, enjoyed a 16-6 rebounding advantage in the first two quarters. They also made 12 of 14 free throws in the first half.

Pucci "carried us," Arundel Coach Lee Rogers said. "Unfortunately, it takes five players to win a ballgame. The foul line kept them in it the first half. In the second half, they controlled the game. They wanted it bad and we didn't. When you play tentative, you get beat."

Severna Park stayed close in the first half behind senior forward Kim Lawton, who scored 15 of her game-high 19 points in the first two quarters. The 5-8 Lawton also had seven rebounds.

"I like to call her our miniature Charles Barkley," Giblin said.

Arundel got 15 points from its leading scorer, senior guard Jill Marano, who played on a sprained ankle. Junior forward Najmah Fauntleroy, the team's second-leading scorer, added 11 points.