Coming into the 2014-15 Howard County girls basketball coaches predicted parity and unpredictability.
But Mt. Hebron senior guard Meghan Doherty knew that as long as her team did one thing on Friday night against Oakland Mills, the results would be consistent with the Vikings' tradition of success.
"Our team, every single year I've been on this team we show heart and that's what wins us games," said Doherty, who scored a game-high 16 points to lead her team to a 50-35 win over the visiting Scorpions. "Hebron has never let me down with showing our heart."
The Vikings battled to a 26-23 halftime lead, after a buzzer-beating baseline jumper by Emily Purnell (7 points) at the end of the second quarter, but went up by seven by the end of the third, then blew the game open early in the fourth when Doherty hit a free throw, then collected the rebound on the missed second shot and drained a three-pointer to put her team up by 11.
"I wanted to lead the team and show that they can count on me," said Doherty, who has committed to play lacrosse for the University of Maryland next year.
The Vikings won 18 games last year, but were blown out by City in the second round of the playoffs.
"I love what I see. I just know it's going to click better," coach Tony Bell said. "I'm hoping by the end of December to be nine or 10 deep, which I think we have the potential to be."
The Vikings will host city-power Dunbar on Monday, then play River Hill and Atholton later in the week.
Juniors Peyton LeConte (8) and Gabby Green (6) added another 14 points for the Vikings, and senior Megan Konig chipped in five.
Oakland Mills was led by senior point guard Tori Diggs, with 12 points, and junior Ny'Jayah Lockwood added six.
"I was pleased with our intensity, we just made some silly mistakes we have some things to work on as we get into the season," Scorpions coach Christina Hewitt said.
MH: Doherty 16, LeConte 8, Purnell 7, Green 6, Konig 5, Crump 2, Devine 2, Williams 2.
OM: Diggs 12, Lockwood 6, Jackson 5, Jones-Carter 4, Weiss 4, Davis 2, Nicholson 2.
Half: MH 26-23
River Hill 52, Wilde Lake 36
River Hill junior guard Jess Hopkins poured in 22 points to lead the Hawks to a 52-36 win at Wilde Lake on Friday night.
After graduating all-county twins Jenna and Julia Collins, who combined for almost 700 points and more than 400 rebounds last season, there were some questions as to how the Hawks would compete this winter.
"The twins played a very crucial role last year, they had a lot of our points and a lot of our rebounds, so as a unit we all stepped up. It was a lot of ground to cover, but I think we did a pretty good job tonight," said Hopkins, who was also a key contributor on River Hill's state championship soccer team. "I think there are going to be a lot of surprises this year with teams stepping up, and it will be interesting ... we're right there with everybody else. It'll just be whoever can pull it out at the end, and hopefully it's us."
Wilde Lake cut River Hill's lead to six at 36-30 after a three-pointer by Rachel Lazris early in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks responded immediately with an eight-point run, highlighted by two Hopkins three-pointers.
Six-foot junior Sydney Poindexter contributed 16 points for River Hill.
Lazris led the Wildecats with 17.
"You've got to minimize your turnovers and take care of the ball and have scoring opportunities and limit mistakes, and we just didn't do that," said Wilde Lake coach Bob Cranford, whose team turned the ball over 23 times. "The wheels came off of the wagon. The cohesiveness has got to be there ... we'll get there though."
RH: Hopkins 22, Poindexter 16, Buchiane 7, Caddigan 3, Hovet 2.
WL: Lazris 17, Bialek 6, Robinson 6, Gill 2.
Half: RH 28-22
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Atholton 71, Long Reach 25
Shooting guard Chelsea Mitchell led the Raiders with 21 points, followed closely by sophomore point guard Francesca Vanegas who poured in 20.
Lightning freshman point guard Kiana Williams scored nine points to lead Long Reach in her high school debut.
A: Mitchell 21, Vanegas 20, Caitlyn Burmester 6, Ryan Jones 6.
LR: K. Williams 9, Green 6, D. Williams 3, Mata 2, Malone 2, Ezimako 2, Ratcliffe 1.
Half: A 36-13.
Howard 52, Marriotts Ridge 17
Ho: Scott 14, Talley 12, Batterton 10, Gilmore 8, Lewis 5, Kinsey 2, Sagi 1.
MR: Held 4, Hockensmith 4, C. Blalock 3, Condron 2, Evans 2, Stepke 2.
Half: Ho 30-8.
Centennial 41, Glenelg 33
C: Simmons 12, Mitchell 11, Driscoll 7, Eads 6, Burke 5.
G: Foster 15, Wolfrey 10, Arrington 2, Butera 2, Henggler 2, Mattis 2.
Half: C 20-17.
Park 39, Glenelg Country 35
GCS: S. DeLeonibus 12, Hursey 11, K. DeLeonibus 5, Seitz 3, Campbell 2, Etokebe 2, Garcia 1.
P: Berner 12, Kuntz 10, Olschwinsky 8, Davidson 4, Cunningham 3, Why 3.
Half: P 16-15.