Coming off a 7-15 season last winter, River Hill coach Teresa Waters knew the turnaround process this year was going to take a little time.
If the first two weeks of the season are any indication, however, the Hawks just might be ahead of schedule.
River Hill put three players in double figures against Hammond Wednesday night, earning a 52-35 victory to improve to 2-0 in county play and 4-0 overall.
“Last year was definitely a tough year … so we just had to grow and find our identity. And I think you can already see that experience and chemistry that they built is coming into play this season,” Waters said. “We still have a long way to go, but these first games that we’ve played have really helped us. The kids are feeling good, their excited and they’re playing for one another.”
Mona King (16 points), Kennedy Clark (13) and Saniha Jackson (9) all had big offensive nights in the River Hill victory. King says seeing results on the scoreboard have had a lot to do with a mentality switch.
“Now we are playing to win, we’re not playing not to lose. I think we are seeing that we have this passion to win and we are going to do what we have to do,” King said.
In the loss, Hammond (0-2, 1-2) got a team-high 15 points from Imani Reid. It was three quick baskets from Reid that helped the Golden Bears jump out to a 7-3 lead in the opening four minutes.
But River Hill regrouped and put together a game-defining run. Between the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second, the Hawks rattled off 17 unanswered points to turn their deficit into a 20-7 advantage.
Waters said that stretch didn’t feature anything fancy, just good fundamental basketball.
“It’s really just staying composed, making sure everyone gets touches and recognizing the open player,” she said. “When we went on those runs, we were making the extra pass and really exposing the mismatches.”
Hammond did its best to hang around, cutting its deficit to eight points early in the third quarter after trailing 30-19 at the half. However, the Golden Bears never managed to get any closer than that and King was a major reason why.
The Hawks’ senior forward was held scoreless in the first half before breaking out for 10 points in the third quarter. She kept that momentum rolling into the final period and allowed River Hill to open its largest advantage of the evening, 49-30, with six minutes left in regulation.
River Hill is back in action on Friday against Marriotts Ridge. After that it’s a handful of non-county games before facing the meat of its league schedule immediately after winter break.
“We know the big tests are coming and they right around the corner,” Waters said. “For now, I just want them to embrace the idea of trying to get better every day and buy into what we’re telling them as coaches.”
River Hill 52, Hammond 35
RH (2-0, 4-0): King 16, Clark 13, S. Jackson 9, Wesche 6, Dawitt 4, Masker 4.
Ha (0-2, 1-2): Reid 15, McInerney 5, Burns 5, Brown 4, Allen 3, Lindsey 2, Clark 1.
Half: 30-19 RH.
Howard 64, Atholton 25
The Lions stayed undefeated on the season, building a 31-13 lead at the half and cruising the rest of the way. Taylor Addison led the way in the victory with 18 points.
Ho (2-0, 3-0): Addison 18, Sanchez-Henry 9, Furr 9, Russell 9, Jones 6, Malagar 5, Burris 4, Durkee 2, Eich 2.
A (0-2, 0-2): Beckwith 7, Bathras 6, Cannon 4, Blair 2, Simons 2, Ruley 2, Sowah 2.
Half: 31-13 Ho.
Long Reach 82, Reservoir 49
Jaelyn Swann had a career-game, making seven 3-point shots on the way to a game-high 22 points. Lyric Swann (19 points) and Kiana Williams (18) also had huge offensive efforts in the victory.
As a team, Long Reach hit 14 shots from beyond the arc (14-28).
Emily Dorn (13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists) and Abby Bailey (13 points and 9 rebounds) led the way for the Gators. Nia Powell also contributed four points and 14 rebounds.
LR (2-0, 2-0): J. Swann 22, L. Swann 19, Williams 18, Briggs-Hall 8, Streeter 8, Richardson 3, Proctor 2, Thompson 2.
Re (0-2, 0-3): Dorn 13, Bailey 13, Abunessar 9, Hooker 5, Powell 4, Parker 3.
Half: 44-18 LR.
Centennial 54, Mt. Hebron 33
The Eagles won their third straight game, with Ashley Molz and Rasa Welsh leading the way with 15 points apiece.
C (2-0, 3-1): Welsh 15, Molz 15, Dossett 10, Rockefeller 4, Hamshey 3, Chausse 2, Lambert 2, Worthy 2, Reese 1.
MH (0-2, 1-2): Demek 10, Williams 9, Oliver 4, Milano 4, Hankins 3, Rodriguez 3.
Half: 32-12 C.
Marriotts Ridge 47, Wilde Lake 41
The Mustangs won their second straight game, first in county play, behind big games from Hope Morath (12 points) and Emma Morath (11).
In the loss, Jazmin Perry and Kiyah King each scored a game-high 15 points for Wilde Lake.
MR (1-1, 2-2): H. Morath 12, E. Morath 11, Noll, 8, Conroy 7, Bryan 5, Bergquist 3, Crosby 1.
WL (0-2, 0-2): Perry 15, King 15, Corkeron 9, Cariati 2.
Half: 21-18 WL.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports