Jess Hopkins

Jessie Hopkins and River Hill defeated Hammond on Wednesday night. (File photo by Nate Pesce / December 18, 2013)

After starting the season 0-3 in Howard County play, defending state runner-up River Hill needed to right itself before losing too much ground. With subsequent wins over Reservoir and Long Reach in their pocket, the Hawks entered Wednesday night’s matchup at Hammond with a chance to reach .500.

Behind Julia Collins’ season-high 22 points, including 17 in the second quarter,  River Hill cruised to its third win of the season, downing the Golden Bears, 58-21.

“We still have to get better,” coach Teresa Waters said after her team’s victory. “We still have a ways to go, and we’re just trying to work on the little things.”

Julia Collins also added eight rebounds, and got support offensively from her sister, Jenna (11 points), as well as point guard Jessie Hopkins (8). Most of the Hawks’ scoring took place in the first half.

Hammond coach Mona Reid said she was disappointed with her squad’s ability to “show up,” adding that although they lost on Monday to Mt. Hebron, the team looked as though it had taken a turn for the better.

“There’s really not one thing that we did wrong,” she said. “This has to do with us having heart and showing up against teams that typically dominate us.”

Junior forward Jameelah Wallace had six points for Hammond. Shawntel King (5 points), Lauren Terry (4), Shawnice King (4) and Betsy Frekot (2) all contributed as well.

One bright spot on defense was Terry, who registered five blocks in the paint against the surging Hawks offense.

At the beginning of the season, Reid said it was her goal to rebrand the Golden Bears girls basketball program. Now 0-5, she said her club is still aiming to reach that new standard of play.

“We need to change the face of Hammond,” she said. “We can’t do that if we don’t show up.”

Though both teams kept it even in the opening minutes, River Hill applied a ferocious press that Hammond had difficulty figuring out all night.

The Hawks’ initial run began with a little more than three minutes remaining in the first quarter, when Julia Collins and Hopkins converted back-to-back steals into points.

Julia Collins owned the boards in second quarter for River Hill as well, notching six rebounds in those eight minutes.

Heading into halftime, it was 35-6 – a lead that the Golden Bears could never fully recover from.

In the second half, the Waters got a chance to give her bench players a few minutes of game experience – something she said was well deserved considering how hard they work in practice.

Wednesday’s game was the last county match-up until Jan. 2 for both squads. After tournament play, River Hill picks it up again against Glenelg, while Hammond travels to Marriotts Ridge.

Highlights:

River Hill 58, Hammond 21

RH (3-3): Julia Collins 22, Jenna Collins 11, Jessie Hopkins 8, Annie Clark 4, Caitlin Gilbert 4, Isabel Paci 2, Alexis Patterson 2, Halley Seybold 2, Sydney Poindexter 3. 

Ham (0-5): Shawnice King 4, Lauren Terry 4, Shawntel King 5, Betsy Frekot 2, Jameelah Wallace 6