Early in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s matchup between Howard and visiting Mt. Hebron, Howard center Sydney Biniak found herself with three fouls.
Often, when a team’s talented presence in the paint has to take a seat, the void can change a game. For the undefeated Lions (8-0, 10-0), who cruised to a 41-23 victory over the Vikings, it was a chance to show how deep their roster is.
“That was big. Syd scored our first four points of the game, and then she got fouls early,” said Howard coach Scott Robinson, who turned to forwards Berit Batterton and Emileigh Scott to play a larger role in the team’s 10th consecutive victory. “I have all the confidence in the world in those girls.”
Batterton notched eight points and 11 rebounds, while Scott added four points and three assists. The pair’s dominating defense was the key, however, as the Biniak-less Lions held the Vikings (5-4, 6-5) to just seven points in the third quarter.
“They have a lot of talent, so we were just trying to stop the ball screens and the shots, because they have really good shooters,” said Batterton of the Vikings. “With Sydney gone, there’s definitely a gap. She’s a great player. But I think mainly everyone just kept calm and stayed the course.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions got exceptional guard play out of Jayda Gilmore and Emma Hoesman, who notched 10 and seven points, respectively.
In the third quarter, Gilmore contributed six points to a 12-0 Lions run that spanned just less than four minutes.
“Once Jayda gets going, she can really score. She gave us a lift there and scored some big baskets for us,” Robinson added.
Despite the foul trouble, Biniak also contributed to the win with a solid four points and four rebounds.
Mt. Hebron, which was playing in its third game in as many days, had another tough night from the field. The Vikings are 1-2 on the week so far, and coach Tony Bell said getting the shots to fall in the first quarter has been the team’s biggest downfall.
“We just have to score some points,” said Bell, whose squad has been outscored 25-17 in the first eight minutes over the last three games. “We knew it was going to be tough before we walked into this gym. They’re the best team in the county for a reason.”
Unlike last night, when Bell said his team came out uninspired, the coach said he was impressed with the way the Vikings played early on, despite not getting the results to show for it.
“We definitely didn’t come out as flat. The girls are beat up and tired, but they never quit,” he said.
Facing a daunting 21-12 deficit heading into the second half, the Vikings held the Lions scoreless for the first four minutes of the third quarter. But, unable to capitalize on Meghan Doherty’s five points in that span, the visitors went cold once more.
In the final 12 minutes of the game, Howard outscored Mt. Hebron 19-8, effectively silencing any potential comeback in the works.
“They’re deep and they are a well-coached team,” Bell said. “I’m proud to coach in this county, and I’m proud of the way everyone is stepping up their game this year.”
Howard is the county’s first team to ten wins on the season, as well as its lone unbeaten squad. For Robinson, the impressive run will be something he enjoys at a later date. For now, it’s all about the next team on the schedule.
“We’re just focusing on one game at a time. In terms of being undefeated, that’s nice, but we’re looking at the next opponent,” said the Lions’ coach, who will prepare his team for Friday’s out-of-county match-up against Bel Air. “We played well tonight, but there are some things we can do better.”
Howard 41, Mt. Hebron 23