Over the course of this upcoming season, Mt. Hebron coach Tony Bell knows his squad will inevitably face its share of adversity.
Although now, after coming back from an early 12-point deficit to earn a 40-31 victory over Glenelg Country in the Vikings’ season opener on Tuesday, Bell has a great point of reference for what his team is capable of with its back against the wall.
Mt. Hebron held the visiting Dragons to just two field goals over the final three quarters and strung together several extended runs to eventually pull away down the stretch for the nine-point victory.
“This team is resilient man and that’s exactly what we are going to have to be because, in my opinion, we play in the best county in the state in girls basketball from top to bottom,” Bell said. “So we are going to be behind at times this season, but now I have this game I can come back to and remind them that we’ve done it before. It’s hard sometimes to accomplish things when you’ve never done it, but once you achieve something … there’s a belief from then on.
“For a first game, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Eve Chase led the way with 10 points in the win for Mt. Hebron, followed closely behind by nine points apiece from Meredith Williams and Julia Rodriguez. Chase said that the balanced scoring production was indicative of how well the team worked together.
“I think today really showed that we are a team and we really pulled together. And our positivity really helped the most,” Chase said.
On the other side, Taylor Gillis (11 points) and Taylor Denny (eight) led the way for Glenelg Country.
In the early stages, it was Gillis that helped the Dragons come roaring out of the gates. The junior guard hit a 3-point shot, made a transition lay-up and then sank a pair of foul shots in the opening three minutes to stake her team to a 10-2 advantage.
Later in the period, following a steal and lay-up by Brianna Chun, Glenelg Country had itself a 17-7 lead. And that cushion grew to 12 points, 19-7, on the opening possession of the second quarter when Ashlyn Bender made a jumper.
But, after that, Mt. Hebron picked up the intensity on defense and the Dragons went cold. Over the final 7:37 of the first half, Glenelg Country didn’t score a single point and Mt. Hebron closed to within 19-16 at intermission.
That cold spell from the Dragons ultimately set the tone for the rest of the game, as Glenelg Country made just one more field goal in the entire second half.
“I thought it really just came down to execution because we got decent looks most of the game I thought, but after that first quarter we simply couldn’t make any shots,” Glenelg Country coach Will Harper said. “I mean we made one field goal the entire second half and that’s just not going to get it done.”
Still, even with the shots not falling, Glenelg Country hung tight and the game was tied 25-25 entering the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t until an extended 12-2 run by the Vikings in the middle of the fourth quarter that the momentum of the game officially changed. During that push, Rodriguez hit her third 3-pointer of the game for Mt. Hebron and Bell said the spark provided by his junior guard was huge.
“She’s been on varsity since her freshman year and has always been more of a role player, but this year I told her she’s going to be our knock-down 3-point shooter. So to see her step up like she did, that was huge,” he said. “Confidence wise, to hit those threes when it counted, hopefully it will carry with her the rest of the year.”
Glenelg Country made a handful of free throws to get as close as six points with just under two minutes left in regulation. However, Mt. Hebron added a foul shot and lay-up in crunch time to pull away for good.
Mt. Hebron will be back in action on Friday for its first county game against Long Reach.
Mt. Hebron 40, Glenleg Country 31
MH (1-0): Chase 10, Williams 9, Rodriguez 9, Valentine 4, Demek 4, Oliver 3, Milano 1.
GC (1-1): Gillis 11, Denny 8, Chun 5, Haynes 3, Bender 2, O’Leary 2.
Half: 19-16 GC.
Howard 51, Reservoir 13
The Lions stormed out to a 43-2 lead by halftime and never looked back in the season opener for both teams. Courtney Furr and Deonna Jones-Carter led the way for Howard with 10 points apiece and nine different players scored.
Nia Powell led the Gators in the loss with eight points.
“Howard played outstanding and looked to be in playoff season form...like a team on a mission for a 4A State championship,” Reservoir coach Deb Taylor said. “We are young, with six new girls in our 10 man rotation. Our lack of familiarity with each other showed, and missing the leadership, scoring and rebounding of junior Emily Dorn (ankle) hurt us. We are a talented team, who — once we find our identity — will be a very competitive team in the county.”
Ho (1-0, 1-0): Furr 10, Jones 10, Malagar 8, Sanchez-Henry 6, Robinson 4, Addison 4, Eich 4, Burris 3, Russell 2.
Re (0-1, 0-1): Powell 8, Abunessar 3, Bailey 2.
Half: 43-2 Ho.
Glenelg 69, Century 39
Jess Foster scored a game-high 33 points, including 21 in the first half, and the Gladiators rolled to the season-opening win.
G (0-0, 1-0): Foster 33, Johnson 12, LePage 8, Gillespie 6, Salapia 3, Howze 2, LePort 2, Prezelski 1, Artebun 1,
C: Diario 11, Mauder 8, Weishoa 6, Kain 3, Semis 2, Hall 1, Plitt 1, Huber 1, Tafil 1.
River Hill 49, Tuscarora 40
Hammond 64, DuVal 46
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports