Girls basketball: Glenelg vs. River Hill

Glenelg celebrates after defeating River Hill, 47-39, Thursday, to win its second consecutive county title. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda, Patuxent Publishing / February 15, 2012)

With her team leading River Hill by five and 29 seconds left in the game, Glenelg's Danielle Burris stepped to the free throw line. Her first shot hit the rim three times before falling in, but her second shot barely rippled the net as it dropped through.

"I haven't had the best free throw percentage this year. I was lucky to get those two," Burris said.

A big smile crossed her face after she hit the free throws.

"I thought: All right, we've got this locked down because of the score we had."

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Burris's free throws and one later by Kristin Yuan helped Glenelg beat River Hill, 47-39, and give the Gladiators their second consecutive county title. Had River Hill won Thursday night's game, the two teams would have shared the title.

"It was there for the taking," said River Hill coach Teresa Waters.

Missed free throws doomed the Hawks, who hit 7 of 18 as opposed to Glenelg's 16 of 22.

"We weren't converting on our foul shots and they were and that was the biggest difference in the game," said River Hill's Megan Sterling.

"Our free throws were horrible," Waters said.

While Glenelg is known as a 3-point shooting team, the Gladiators decided they had to beat River Hill in the paint.

"We knew we had to shut down Alauna (Jackson), Megan (Sterling) and the twins (Jenna and Julia Collins)," said Sam Heisig. She had a team-high 17 points for Glenelg and pulled in key defensive rebounds.

Yuan, a 6-foot-3 junior, who has been earning more playing time as the season has progressed, was tapped with trying to stop Jackson, also a 6-footer.

The first time the teams played, Jackson has 12 points in the first quarter. This time she had 12 points before she left the game late in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.

"My whole goal was to stop her," Yuan said. "But she had a great game, too. It's a good match-up."

Yuan finished the night with eight points. Burris had 13 and Emily Russo, who sat out the second quarter with fouls, had nine.

"Emily Russo changes the whole complexion of the game when she is on the court," Waters said. "She goes after every little pass. She's got a nose for the ball and she anticipates really well."

Russo scored eight of her nine points in the second half.

"I thought Emily took the game over," said Glenelg coach Don Beall.

Glenelg didn't shake River Hill until the final 47 seconds when the Gladiators hit five of six free throw attempts.

"They capitalized on what they needed to and that was the free throws," Waters said. "They are a good team and I wish them well.