The Archbishop Spalding girls’ basketball squad laid the groundwork of a potential monster 2010-11 season this week, finishing second at the Best of Maryland Tournament at Damascus. The Cavaliers lost, 52-48, to St. John’s (D.C.) in the title game Wednesday afternoon.

“It was great exposure, getting the opportunity to play in front of college coaches,” said Cavaliers coach Bookie Rosemond. “It gave us a chance to play some of the truly elite in the country.”

Considered one of the summer’s top girls’ basketball events, 20 teams from 10 states ventured to the Montgomery County high school including the Cavaliers and Seton Keough. Maryland, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, St. John’s were among the 100-plus colleges in attendance.

The Cavaliers opened bracket play Monday with victories over Florida’s Barron Collier (62-31) and reigning Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champ Elizabeth Seton (56-42). After routing event host Damascus (70-38), Spalding edged Twinsburg (OH), 44-42.

In the quarterfinal round Wednesday morning, the Cavaliers received a loose ball rebound and put back from rising sophomore forward Camille Calhoun to fend off Missouri’s St. Joseph Academy. Rising senior guard Brya Freeland had a late three-pointer to tie the game.

Rising senior forward Sherae Swinson drained four free throws in the final 20 seconds, helping Spalding past defending Best of Maryland champ Mount Lebanon (PA). Last season, Mount Lebanon won its second consecutive Class 4A state championship and finished No. 7 nationally by USA Today.

Playing its third game in six hours, Spalding was able to go down to the closing moments with St. John’s before the District school emerged with the crown. With seven players, Rosemond said the Cavaliers just wore down.

“We had our chances at the end. We had a chance to tie at the foul line and missed, and they came down and hit theirs,” said Rosemond, who had four players out resting injuries. “We played that [title] game with five experienced players and two subs. St. John’s had 12 and all 12 can play. Each game we advanced got more and more difficult.”

Rosemond was impressed with all the contributions from the roster. In the Mount Lebanon victory, rising junior forward Rachael Griffith had eight points off the bench including a pair of three-pointers. Rosemond said rising senior forward Shaquilla Curtis attracted the interest of several Division I programs.

With its entire roster back including rising senior guard Maggie Morrison, who’s verbally committed to Vanderbilt, Spalding is expected to contend for the IAAM A crown this winter. Rosemond said his team is slated to play this upcoming season in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona and the Breezy Bishop Mixer at Western, in addition to matches with region powerhouses St. John’s and Riverdale Baptist.

“We don’t have any easy games. The girls have worked hard and they want to play the best competition out we can find out there,” said Rosemond. “We finished second at Best of Maryland, Bishop Walsh and IAAM [both last season]. We’re tired of being the bridesmaid.”

Seton Keough posted a 2-3 mark at Best of Maryland. The Gators defeated Bishop McNamara (56-41) and West Virginia’s North Marion (55-45).