It didn’t take long for Atholton girls basketball coach Julia Reynold to realize that Tuesday’s match-up with visiting Mt. Hebron was going to be a defensive battle.
After a mere 16 combined first-quarter points between the two squads, the Raiders clung to a two-point advantage. In need of a catalyst to put all the pieces together, junior Sage Mayhew’s solid, technical style of play was exactly what the home team was looking for.
“(She) played a heck of a game,” said Reynold, whose club went on to defeat the Vikings, 45-33. “She does a lot of rebounding for us, and can help handle the ball.”
Like many of the teams in Howard County, guards and forwards are sometimes interchangeable. Post players can move up top and run an offense just as easily as they can patrol the paint.
Mayhew notched 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. And while it may not light up a stat sheet, her ability to create chances on both sides of the ball also helped the Raiders (6-2, 8-2) as a unit get to the next level.
“I think we really worked well together overall,” she said. “We slowed it down on offense, and shut them down on defense. We switched well too.”
Complemented by fellow junior Chelsea Mitchell’s 11 points, as well as sophomore Megan Hart’s six points and ten rebounds, the Raiders’ win over Mt. Hebron (5-3, 6-4) keeps the county’s second-longest winning streak alive. Since losing to Howard on Dec. 12, Reynold said her team has grown, and will only continue to get better.
“I think we’re really playing well. In each game, we make adjustments, and different kids are stepping up. We have a lot of role players on this team,” she said. “Mt. Hebron is an incredible team, and we knew this was going to be a back-and-forth game. Our team was very composed.”
In the second quarter, the Raiders jumped out to a big lead thanks to a 13-4 scoring differential. Eleven of Mayhew’s points came in the first 16 minutes of the contest.
“We came out flat,” said Mt. Hebron coach Tony Bell. “When you play against Atholton, or any of the top teams in the county, you can’t do that. Nine times out of 10 you will come off the court with a loss at the end of the night.
“I tip my hat to them. They are a good team. It was just another clash of powers in Howard County.”
Bell’s Vikings played from behind for the majority of the game, never once leading after the first quarter.
“We have a style that we have to play, and when we do anything different from that, it affects us,” he said. “If we don’t do that, I don’t care who we play, it’s going to be a rough game.”
Though the Raiders were in foul trouble early in both the second and fourth quarters, the visitors couldn’t take advantage. Shooting just 12 of 30 from the line — including a stretch of one of eight in the final three minutes when the game was still in reach — is something Bell said his team has to improve on if they want to compete against the county’s top teams.
In the second half, the Raiders were tasked with keeping a resurgent Vikings squad on the ground. The visitors cut the lead to single digits heading into the fourth quarter, but Atholton would not loosen its grip.
The Vikings were led by junior forward Nia Crump’s 14 points, as well as sophomore center Gabby Green’s eight points and 13 boards.
Both teams were playing their second of a three-game stretch. Reynold said it’s weeks like these that her team needs to stay grounded for.
“It’s one game at a time,” she said. “That’s the way we have to focus.”
Atholton 45, Mt. Hebron 33
A: Sage Mayhew 13, Chelsea Mitchell 11, Megan Hart 8, Kalere Caldwell 8, Caitlyn Burmester 3, Ryan Jones 2.
MH: Nia Crump 14, Gabby Green 8, Megan Konig 4, Meghan Doherty 3, Jordan Stevens 3, Tianna Wallpher 1.
Half: 24-11, Atholton.
Chapelgate 28, Park 26
CCA (3-4): Courtney Hayes 16, Alexus Richards 6, Christina VanWingerden 4, Amanda Rickett 2.
*Long Reach 19, Centennial 16
Game was called with 7:39 remaining in fourth quarter due to building emergency.