All season Mt. Hebron has been looking for that consistent third scoring option — someone to take the pressure off the team's top two guys Diara Woodard and Mark Smith.
If Monday's game against Hammond is any indication, point guard Joey Trapuzzano just might be the man for the job.
Dropping in a career-high 16 points, including 15 in the second half, the sophomore helped the Vikings create some separation and earn their third win of the season, 55-45. Woodard (19 points and 13 rebounds) and Smith (12 points) had big games too, but Trapuzzano's production late was ultimately the difference for a Mt. Hebron team that improved to 3-1 when three guys score in double figures.
"We can't rely on Diara and Mark to do all the scoring for us every game and it shows in our record," Trapuzzano said. "Somebody else has to step up … I'm just glad I got a couple shots to fall."
Woodard, who leads the county in scoring with an average of 20.6 points a game, established himself early against a Hammond (0-8, 0-11) team still searching for its first win of the winter. The Vikings' senior scored 11 of his team's first 14 points.
But even with him getting going, Mt. Hebron (2-6, 3-8) never led by more than four points in the first half and actually trailed on several occasions. Hammond's Mike Anderson had a big hand in keeping the Golden Bears in the game, scoring nine of his team-high 13 points in the first two quarters.
It wasn't until Trapuzzano got himself into the mix in the third quarter that Mt. Hebron was able to open up a more comfortable cushion.
"Our starting rotation has changed so many times this year based on how people are playing in practice and Joey is one of those that has been having some great practices," Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. "It was great to see some of that translate over into the game tonight."
A three by Trapuzzano to open the fourth quarter gave the Vikings their first double-digit advantage and they never led by less than eight the rest of the way.
"I just had to go out there and shoot with confidence," Trapuzzano said. "Seeing the ball go in a few times definitely helped with that."
With only three wins, Mt. Hebron still has plenty of work to do going forward. But, as Woodard points out, the team's early struggles are only making them stronger for a potential end-of-the-season run.
"Nobody likes to lose, but losing builds character," Woodard said. "When we lose games that makes us even more hungry to win and it makes it that much better when we have nights like tonight (against Hammond) where we do pull together."
RH (7-1, 9-2): Moody 24, Thomas 24, Sandler 9, Coddington 7, Titus 4, Check 2.
Ho (1-8, 2-9): Anderson 12, Spalding 11, Bartnik 9, Crisco 9, Seeley 8, Binkley 7, Caruso 2.
Half: 35-28 RH.
Long Reach 74, Wilde Lake 71
LR (4-4, 6-5): Green 23, Barr 14, Neal 10, Allmond 9, J. Hall 7, Kwarteng 6, Brown 2, Stewart 2, S. Hall 1.
WL (4-4, 6-5): Handy 26, Robinson 12, Calloway 10, Groves 10, K. Jackson 5, N/A 5, Ampofo 3.
Half: 41-38 WL.
Marriotts Ridge 56, Reservoir 51
With the score tied at 51 and time running down, Marriotts Ridge's Robert Davis (25 points) hit a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left to put the Mustangs ahead 54-51. Sean Harrison stole the ensuing inbounds pass and was fouled. He made his two free throws to seal the five-point victory.
MR (3-5, 4-7): Davis 25, Delaney 9, Caffes 7, Miller 6, Harrison 3, Bennett 2, Willsey 2, Bryant 2.
Re (5-3, 6-4): Williams 12, Reilly 9, Toler 8, Simms 8, Franklin 7, McDonald 5, Henry 2.