Following an Atholton 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter Wednesday, Howard coach Scott Robinson called a timeout to regroup his team.
The Lions (8-0 county, 18-0 overall) had led by as much as 14 in the game, but the Raiders (6-1, 11-4) stormed back to take a one-point advantage with about five minutes remaining.
In the huddle Robinson was confident in his girls. They had been in the same situation on the road four days earlier and came out unscathed. He expected the same result against Atholton on its home floor.
“I told them we had been there before, which we had,” Robinson said. “We were just there Friday night. I felt confident we would come back and win and we just really wanted to get the ball in the hands of the people that we wanted to get it to.”
His notion was correct.
Out of the break Howard responded with its own 7-0 run, which propelled the eventual, 66-59, victory and kept their undefeated record alive.
“It is really important mentally to pull off a fourth quarter [win] like that,” said Lions junior forward Taylor Addison. “I feel like we are such a strong team. We’ve beaten a lot of really amazing teams and we’ve been down a lot. Like last Friday we were down to Glenelg in the fourth quarter, and I think we all knew we could do it and we believe in each other.”
The Raiders struggled finding the bottom of the hoop in the opening minutes, which allowed Howard to jump out to an early 14-0 lead. Sofia Harrison finally scored Atholton's first points of the game with 3:56 remaining in the period, but the quick advantage proved vital down the stretch.
“That is huge,” said Raiders coach Julia Reynold of the early 14-point hole. “They come out and you can’t give them an inch. They’ll run with it and we know that. They are an excellent team, so we knew it was going to be a battle. We just kind of told our kids that they had to dig deep and there’s four quarters to a basketball game.”
Atholton slowly began chipping away at Howard's lead in the second quarter, as they got the Lions in some early foul trouble.
The Raiders took advantage with a 6-0 run in the opening minutes of the second period, with Ryan Jones finally breaking the 10-point cushion with 3:49 left.
Atholton’s Kayla Beckwith connected on an attempt with less than a minute remaining, while Harrison made 1 of 2 from the free throw line in the waning seconds to cut the score, 36-28 at the half.
“Julia does a great job,” Robinson said. “They are so tough to defend. Their guards are just so dynamic, so quick. You can’t give them any space. They are good at taking the ball to the hole, and then they were getting the inside game. So just a credit to our girls to overcome a very hostile home crowd, they had a good turn out.”
Zhuri Cannon came off the bench and provided the Raiders with its first six points of the second half, which got her team within seven.
“She is a great spark for our team,” Reynold said of the sophomore. “She comes in and can rebound. Her put-backs, she’s really worked hard on getting offensive rebounds and being prepared for that.”
Addison and Courtney Furr countered with back-to-back buckets for Howard and pushed the lead back to 11, which forced Reynold to call a timeout to stall the Lions’ momentum.
“They fought hard and [I told them to] worry about things that they can control,” Reynold said. “I asked them individually to dig deep. I think it shows a lot of heart. These girls love the game and they play hard for themselves, but they play hard for each other. They work hard in practice and you start to see results during the game.”
Senior captains Ryan Jones and Francesca Vanegas knocked down back-to-back threes for the Raiders out of the timeout. The momentum quickly shifted and Atholton rolled to a 12-2 advantage to end the third quarter, cutting the score, 47-46.
“They are leaders and they are both terrific players who have had that experience,” Reynold said of Jones and Vanegas. “They are going to keep shooting and I just have to remind them to stay mentally tough, and that’s where you have your other members of your supporting cast to come in and balance it. And we have trust in each other, if one person is off than you keep firing away.”
After an off-shooting first half, Vanegas found her touch in the following 16 minutes, as she was the catalyst for the Raiders fourth quarter come-back.
After Addison and Emileigh Scott provided the Lions with four-straight points early in the fourth, Vanegas responded with seven points in the following minute and a half. She capped off the surge with a terrific finish at the basket with 5:02 remaining to give Atholton its first lead of the game, 55-53.
But Robinson quickly called a timeout and a Lions 7-0 run ensued, which was capped off by a huge three by Furr to push the advantage to five with 3:29 to play.
“Two games in a row we were down in the fourth quarter and we came back with big shots by Taylor, by Emileigh and Courtney, just huge,” Robinson said.
Howard held the Raiders to just one basket in the following minutes, which helped solidfy the win and grab sole possession atop the county.
“Fun high school basketball right there,” Robinson said. “I thought in the last few minutes we played better defense and tried to limit them to one shot. And our bench was huge, because we were in so much foul trouble. We had Sam [Lewis] and Taylor out almost the whole second quarter. Marisa Sanchez-Henry gave us great minutes, as did all the girls off the bench. They just really kept us in the game. I was really proud of them.”
Scott had a fantastic game, leading the Lions with 21 points. Lewis followed with 13 and Addison added 10. Sanchez-Henry chipped in with six points off the bench.
“We definitely wanted that win,” Addison said. “We want a county championship, but right now we are still looking at it one game at a time. We knew they had a few awesome players and they did show that tonight. They gave us a run for our money.”
Vanegas finished with a team-high 18 for Atholton, followed by Jones (16), Harrison (10) and Cannon (8).
“We know Howard County is really competitive and we still have six games in 10 days,” added Reynold. “So that is a tough stretch, but at the end of the day what can you work on to improve? We know that the season we still have some time left to keep working on some things.”
The Raiders next task is at Reservoir Friday, while the Lions are looking to stay perfect against a hot Mt. Hebron team, who is riding a seven-game winning streak heading into the matchup.
“We have to focus on Hebron," Robinson said. "I guess with the way the standings work we have a one game lead on them. They are right there with us. And [Mt. Hebron coach] Tony [Bell] is a great friend. He’s done a great job with that program. I know his girls and they play hard, so Friday is going to be a battle. I think a county championship means a lot to the girls it really does.”
Howard 66, Atholton 59
Ho (8-0, 18-0): Scott 21, Lewis 13, Addison 10, Furr 9, Kinsey 7, M. Sanchez-Henry 6
A (6-1, 11-4): Vanegas 18, Jones 16, Harrison 10, Cannon 8, Hargrett 3, Beckwith 2, Bathras 2.
Half: 36-28, Howard.
Around the league:
Marriotts Ridge 37, Wilde Lake 28 (Tuesday, Feb. 7)
The Mustangs won their second-straight game Tuesday night after another solid defensive performance.
Sarah Blalock led the way offensively for Marriotts Ridge, finishing with a game-high 14 points. The senior also added five rebounds and two assists.
Hope Morath followed with nine points, while Caroline Blalock chipped in with six. Morath also recorded a team-high nine rebounds, while Caroline Blalock added three boards, two assists, one block and a team-high four steals.
Kiyah King led the Wildecats with eight points, followed by Kalani Corkeron (7) and Kiarra Lewis-Turnbo (6).
Tuesday’s game also marked the Mustangs annual "Red Out" to raise money for the American Heart Association.
The players, parents and community came together and raised nearly $1,000 from the game. There was knock out being played at halftime, along with a 50-50 raffle and a bake sale, which aided in the cause.
“It’s nice to be able to put our program efforts towards something bigger than basketball,” said Mustangs coach Caitlin Reese. “It was very meaningful for us.”
Marriotts Ridge is on the road Friday, taking on River Hill, while Wilde Lake will visit Oakland Mills. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
MR (4-3, 13-5): S. Blalock 14, H. Morath 9, C. Blalock 6, Sullivan 3, Bergquist 3, Conroy 2.
WL (0-8, 3-15): King 8, Corkeron 7, Lewis-Turnbo 6, Perry 5, Kostelec 2.
Mt. Hebron 47, Centennial 35 (Tuesday, Feb. 7)
The Vikings extended their winning streak to seven after their win over the Eagles Tuesday.
Mt. Hebron held a tight, 11-9, advantage after the first quarter. It was a defensive stalemate in the second period, as the Vikings were held to just three baskets, while Centennial made just one from the field.
After trailing by five at the half, the Eagles cut the Vikings’ lead to three entering the fourth quarter. But the difference was Mt. Hebron’s defense as it continued to dominate, limiting Centennial to one basket in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings landed on the free throw line 34 times, but connected on just 15 to shoot 44 percent. The Eagles shot slightly better from the charity stripe, connecting on 12 for 23 (52 percent).
Maura Devine led Mt. Hebron with 11 points, followed by Satori Valentine (10) and Eve Chase (8).
Ashley Molz recorded a game-high 12 for the Eagles, while Rasa Welsh and Jasmine McCree added eight and six points, respectively.
Since starting county games that counts toward the overall league standings, the Vikings have gone 8-1. They will have their toughest task of the season on Friday, as they visit undefeated Howard. A county championship is on the line, as a victory could keep Mt. Hebron alive for a share of the league title.
As for Centennial, it will try getting back in the win column against Long Reach. Both games are set for 7 p.m.
MH (7-1, 12-6): M. Devine 11, Valentine 10, Chase 8, S. Devine 6, Demek 6, Krell 4, Oliver 2.
C (4-4, 9-9): Molz 12, Welsh 8, McCree 6, Worthy 4, Eichhorn 3, Hamshey 2.
Half: 23-18, Mt. Hebron.
Long Reach 43, Reservoir 35 (Tuesday, Feb. 7)
The Lightning picked up their 16th win of the year Tuesday, defeating a tough Gators team.
Reservoir was up 8-2 to start, but Long Reach battled back to take a two-point lead at the break.
The Gators struggled finding their offensive touch throughout the game and connected on just 15 made shots from the field.
Long Reach held Reservoir’s leading scorers Kayla Wilson and Emily Dorn to just eight and nine points, respectively in the outing.
But despite its offensive woes, the Gators were in it down the stretch. However, with the Lighting holding a five-point advantage with one minute remaining in the game, it forced Reservoir to foul to stop the clock.
Long Reach shot a respectable, 8 of 15 from the foul line, while Reservoir connected on just 5 of 17.
“Difference for us was from the free throw line,” Reservoir coach Deb Taylor said. “In spite of us having a tough night shooting from the field we still could have won had we converted our free throws. We will look to regroup and bounce back Friday versus Atholton.”
Dorn added 13 rebounds and three assists to lead Reservoir, while Nia Powell added eight points and 10 boards. Haley Tiller chipped in with six points and two steals.
Lyric Swann was the catalyst for the Lighting, as she led all scorers with 19 points. Devon Williams followed with seven.
Long Reach will take on Centennial Friday, while Reservoir is home against the Raiders. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. for both games.
LR (7-1, 16-3): L. Swann 19, D. Williams 7, K. Williams 6, Joyce 4, J. Swann 3, Briggs-Hall 3, Thompson 2.
Re (7-1, 8-10): Dorn 9, Powell 8, Wilson 8, Tiller 6, Verna 1, Schuster 1.
Half: 23-21, Long Reach.
River Hill 55, Hammond 49 (Tuesday, Feb. 7)
The Hawks picked up their second win in three games after defeating the visiting Golden Bears on Tuesday.
After jumping out to a 15-7 advantage after the first quarter, River Hill held a slight, 27-24, lead at the break.
Hammond fought back to get within one entering the fourth quarter, but the Hawks pulled away down the stretch to pick up its fifth win of the season.
Freshman Kennedy Clark and junior Sarah Dawit led the way with 16 points apiece for the Hawks, while Ashlyn McInerney led the Golden Bears with 12 points, followed by Nyelle Allen and Taylor Liguori, who each had 10.
River Hill is back on its home floor Friday against Marriotts Ridge, while Hammond is home to host Glenelg. Both games are slated for 7 p.m.
RH (2-7, 5-12): Clark 16, Dawit 16, Thielman 8, E. Jackson 6, S. Jackson 6, Masker 3.
Ha (1-7, 4-14): McInerney 12, Allen 10, Liguori 10, Mesol 7, Abel 6, Reid 2, Johnson 2.
Half: 27-24, River Hill.
Glenelg 57, Oakland Mills 36 (Tuesday, Feb. 7)
The Gladiators broke a five-game slide in convincing fashion Tuesday, earning a solid 21-point win over the Scorpions.
“All around team effort tonight,” said Glenelg coach Chris Beil. “I am very pleased with our intensity and our defensive play.”
Oakland Mills have lost eight-straight and have struggled offensively during the stretch, scoring less than 40 points in each outing.
The Gladiators got out to a 15-8 lead after limiting the Scorpions to just two made shots from the field. Glenelg extended its cushion to 10 at halftime.
Marely Grenway had a nice outing for Oakland Mills, as she led all scorers with 16 points on the night, while knocking down four shots from behind the arc.
Senior Julia Wolfrey had a great all around game for the Gladiators, scoring 12 points, pulling down six rebounds and recording two assists and one block. Jess Foster added 12 points as well, while Kellie Johnson finished with seven points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Grace Butera also had a solid night for Glenelg, registering seven points, six rebounds, three assists and a block. Courtney Renehan added two points, three steals and a team-high seven assists.
Alex Anderson provided a spark off the bench for Beil’s group, adding three points and five rebounds, while Kendall Howze aided her team with four rebounds and one assist on the night.
The Gladiators are back in action Friday against Hammond, while the Scorpions will host Wilde Lake at 7 p.m.
G (2-6, 11-7): Foster 12, Wolfrey 12, Butera 7, Johnson 7, Arrington 4, Laport 4, LePage 4, Anderson 3, Renehan 2, Quisenberry 2,
OM (0-8, 7-11): Grenway 16, Moranda 6, Rriggs 5, Pacheco 5, Robinson 4.
Half: 27-17, Glenelg.