Arundel 64,

Severna Park 58

Arundel senior guard Jessie Collins says she will be back to cheer on her school in two years because of one person: sophomore guard Alex McGuire.

Last night, Collins got a glimpse of what she will see when McGuire scored a game-high 26 points and had nine rebounds to lead No. 17 Arundel to a 64-58 win against host Severna Park.

"[McGuire is] awesome," said Collins, who chipped in 14 points and had five assists. "If it wasn't for her, I don't know what we'd do. She helps us a lot. I can't wait to see her when she's a senior."

Since earning a starting role as a freshman, McGuire has been the Wildcats' go-to player.

"I don't have to tell them that, the kids know who to go to and she has somehow been responding to the challenge," Coach Lee Rogers said.

The game was tied at 36 at halftime, but McGuire's play in the third quarter swayed the momentum in the Wildcats' favor. She scored 11 of the team's 17 points, helping Arundel jump to a 53-49 lead.

"I've always had to score a lot of points, so this really isn't anything new," said McGuire, who entered the game averaging 17.7 points. "When they give me the ball I know what I have to do with it."

Severna Park (15-4, 11-2), last year's Anne Arundel County champion, suffered both conference losses to Arundel. The win broke the tie for first place in the conference, giving Arundel (16-3, 12-1) the lead. The teams are likely to meet again in the county championship game.

The turning point came in the final two minutes of the third quarter, when sophomore guard Ana Baker chased down an inbounds pass and tied the score at 49 with a layup. Baker then forced a turnover and dished a pass to McGuire, who gave Arundel its first lead. Severna Park was never able to close the gap.

Senior guard Jess Norris led the Falcons with 12 points and Dominique Jennings, who was pulled up from the junior varsity and started, added 11.

"I'm disappointed for the girls because they played really hard," Severna Park Coach Bill Giblin said. "We seemed to always come up on the short end of it. . . . Not that anyone deserves to win more than another team, but these girls really wanted it."