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Howard County Sports 2019-20 Games of the Year

A look at the top games played by Howard County high school teams during the fall and winter seasons of the 2019-20 school year.
A look at the top games played by Howard County high school teams during the fall and winter seasons of the 2019-20 school year.

While the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the cancelation of the spring sports season for high school athletics, there were plenty of notable contests in the two seasons that preceded it. In honor of those many memorable games and matches involving Howard County teams during the 2019-20 school year, the Howard County Times staff has selected and ranked the top 30 sports events involving local teams that a staff member covered in person.

Weight was given to the quality of the game, along with the significance of the outcome.

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All six boys and girls teams in attendance at the Timbers at Troy — representing Centennial, Marriotts Ridge and River Hill — came into the day with undefeated records. Ultimately, after close matches throughout, the Mustangs prevailed to clinch both county titles. Marriotts Ridge’s victory over Centennial in the boys match was by just two points, 90-88, and extended the team’s winning streak to 76 straight against county opponents.

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After losing to River Hill in each of the previous three postseasons, the Wildecats beat the host Hawks, 1-0, in the MPSSAA Class 3A East Region II championship. Jillian Ingram scored the game’s only goal midway through the first half and then the Wilde Lake defense did the rest. The win secured a season sweep of the Hawks and the first region title for Wilde Lake since 2015.

After a disappointing December, including seeing a 47-match Howard County winning streak end against Marriotts Ridge, the Gladiators bounced back in a major way in a meeting between the two 2019 state duals finalists. Glenelg put together its best performance of the season to hand the Seahawks their first loss in a 41-27 victory. The dual remained close until the later stages when the middle- and upper-weights for Glenelg won several close matches and earned bonus points along the way.

It was a record-setting day at Centennial High School, with the Howard girls placing seven runners in the top 10 at the Howard County girls cross country championships to set a new record with a title-winning score of 17 — only two points more than the minimum. Amanda Eliker set the pace for the girls with a winning time of 18:36, which was 40 seconds better than second place. Not to be outdone, River Hill’s Anish Nanjappa set a new course record with a time of 15:21 in the boys race to lead the Hawks to a county title as a team as well.

In one of the Lions’ toughest tests of the season en route to eventually finishing undefeated, they outlasted the Seahawks down the stretch for a 49-47 victory at their own holiday tournament. Anii Harris scored 18 points and Marisa Sanchez-Henry added 13 to help Howard come back from a four-point halftime deficit and improve, at the time, to 8-0 overall.

After losing to the Eagles twice during the regular season in close games, the Wildecats won when it mattered most — winning the program’s first region title since 1994. The dynamic duo of Marcus Mitchell (22 points) and Brince Shelton (24) led the Wildecats to a 66-63 win over the host Eagles in the MPSSAA 3A East Region I championship game, building a double-digit lead in the first half and then holding on late.

There were lots of big victories for the Vikings on the way to winning the county championship, but few were more dramatic than the come-from-behind win on the road against the Hawks. Host River Hill had rallied from behind to win the first two sets against the Vikings, but Mt. Hebron answered the challenge by winning the final three sets (25-19, 25-22, 15-10) to stay atop the league standings with three matches left in the regular season.

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The Mustangs beat the Gladiators for the first time in school history and snapped Glenelg’s 47-match winning streak in Howard County duals that has spanned 1,777 days by a score of 42-28. Freshman Tyler Bury earned a victory by pin late in the match at 138-pounds to help seal the win for Marriotts Ridge, which went on to win the county championship with an undefeated league record (11-0).

At the end of a game that featured 10 lead changes, Kate Abunassar (16 points) stepped up and delivered a go-ahead 3-pointer with six seconds left and then the Gators’ defense made a stop as time expired to clinch a 57-56 victory over the Scorpions and a berth in the 3A East Region II final. Tiffany Hooker added 18 points for Reservoir to help offset a game-high 29 points from Oakland Mills’ Jazmine Washington.

River Hill relied on Zach Igwebe and he delivered to the tune of 108 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries to lead the Hawks to a hard-fought 14-10 win, helping pave the way to the team eventually earning a piece of the county title. Glenelg held a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter before River Hill punched in a touchdown courtesy of Keegan Remick with 8:31 left to create the final margin of victory.

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Comparatively speaking, considering three of the Mustangs’ first four playoff victories came in overtime, this one seemed a bit more straight forward. But claiming the program’s first state title was far from easy. Freshman Maisy Clevenger scored the game’s only goal — the first goal of her career — with 20 minutes left in the second half and the Marriotts Ridge defense made it stand up.

The Raiders raced out of the gates to a 10-0 lead in the first four minutes, establishing an advantage they never lost on the way to a 68-62 victory and a berth in the 3A state semifinals. Jordan Oates scored 12 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, while also pulling down 17 rebounds on the game, to help Atholton (19-7) hold off several spirited comeback attempts by the Mustangs. C. Milton Wright was within one possession of the lead on 13 different occasions but never took the lead.

The Glenelg ice hockey team was trailing by one goal with less than 10 minutes remaining in the Serio Cup championship against Marriotts Ridge. But, midway through the third period, junior forward Tommy Tracy scored two goals within barely a minute of each other to bring the Gladiators back for a 3-2 win over the Mustangs to reclaim the Serio Cup trophy.

The Mustangs had been awarded the victory over host Glenelg following a hectic corner at the end of regulation, but the two officials spent more than five minutes discussing the final play as both teams waited in limbo. The Gladiators appeared to have scored on their corner to send the game to overtime, but the umpire ruled a dangerous hit against the Glenelg player and rescinded the goal. Following what seemed to be a tense meeting between the officials, they confirmed the originally ruling, granting Marriotts Ridge the 2-1 victory. Glenelg had scored first before the Mustangs responded with a pair of goals in the final minutes before halftime to take the lead.

Marriotts Ridge senior Emma Gladstein talks Mustangs field hockey after the team's 2-1 win over Glenelg on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

The Mustangs’ 1-0 double-overtime win over visiting Centennial on Senior Night was icing on the cake after securing the county title two days earlier against Reservoir. Junior forward Jordyn Choe, who scored two goals in the win over the Gators, scored the game-winner a few minutes into the second overtime period on a header.

Marriotts Ridge junior forward Jordyn Choe talks Mustangs girls soccer after the team's 1-0 win over Centennial on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

Wilde Lake stamped its place in the record books and defeated two-time defending state champions C. Milton Wright, 1-0, on a goal from junior Ousman Touray with 7 minutes, 38 seconds left in overtime to capture its first state championship since 1997 and eighth in school history. It was the 23rd goal of the season for Touray and set off a crazy celebration on the field.

The Lions went on the road and beat Glenelg in a shootout, 35-28, to advance to the 2A state quarterfinals. The Gladiators held a 21-13 lead at the half and went ahead by a score of 28-27 late in the third quarter following a 65-yard touchdown run by Kyle Dry. But ultimately Liberty wasn’t to be denied and got what ended up being a game-winning touchdown pass from Nathan Kent to Tommy Nelson early in the fourth quarter to advance in the playoffs.

Both individual championships were decided by a single shot, with Marriotts Ridge’s Faith McIlvain and Glenelg’s Caleb Taylor earning victories. But it was the girls competition that stole the show, with McIlvain going head-to-head against Centennial’s Morgan Taylor on the back nine. Morgan Taylor pushed all the way to the end, including sinking a must-make birdie putt on the final hole. But, with the pressure on, McIlvain answered with a birdie putt of her own on the last green to prevail by one shot.

Despite allowing 36 points to Reservoir’s Tiffany Hooker, the Howard girls basketball team prevailed thanks to having four players score in double figures. In the 68-63 home victory, the Lions led 30-27 at the half. Reservoir hung tight the entire way, though, and was within two points with just six minutes left — playing Howard the closest of any county opponent this winter.

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Facing rival Howard in the 62nd edition of the Elgard Trophy game, Chris Retzbach made a 26-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Gladiators to a 10-7 home victory. Senior Drew Sotka set up the game-winning score with an interception and return to the Lions’ 25 in the final two minutes, while Kyle Dry scored Glenelg’s lone touchdown on a 15-yard run in the third quarter.

After watching an 11-point lead disappear over the final two minutes of regulation against visiting Glenelg to force overtime, DJ Hopkins delivered one of the best individual efforts of the year. The Scorpions’ senior point guard accounted for all 11 of his team’s points in the extra period, including the game-clinching free throws with less than a second remaining that pushed his total for the game to a career-high 36 points, and Oakland Mills held on for a 75-73 victory.

Senior Kayla Brusco scored twice, including the game-winning goal in the second overtime period, to lift the Mustangs to a 2-1 playoff victory over visiting Glenelg in the MPSSAA Class 2A South Region II semifinals. Brusco scored the winner with less than a minute left in the second overtime period — 51 seconds before a penalty shootout would’ve began — off an assist from Emma Gladstein.

Tyriq Umrani powered a right-footed penalty shot into the upper-right corner of the goal for the game-winning tally three minutes into double overtime to send Wilde Lake to the 3A state semifinals with a 2-1 win against Huntingtown. The Hurricanes led 1-0 at the half before the Wildecats rallied to force overtime and eventually emerge victorious.

Centennial scored 28 points in a wild fourth quarter to defeat rival Mt. Hebron, 41-26, and secure the program’s first win since Sept. 2, 2016. In the rollercoaster fourth quarter, Centennial made several crucial, game-changing plays, including two fourth-down conversions and two 85-plus-yard interception returns for touchdowns. The last pick-six, an 87-yard return by senior Anthony Matthews as Hebron was approaching the red zone in hopes of tying or taking the lead late in the game, sealed the victory for Centennial — putting the Eagles up two touchdowns.

After the Wildecats and Cougars matched one another through the first four penalty kicks in the shootout in the 3A state semifinals, Wilde Lake goalie Hannah Lowry stepped up and literally saved the game and extended the Wildecats’ season. Wilde Lake’s Aicha Wilson scored the go-ahead goal in the first half — before Chesapeake later tied the game to force overtime — while Jillian Ingram, Ashlyn Bonner, Wilson, Leah Williams and Angie Geralis connected on their penalty kicks to ensure the Wildecats’ victory.

Will Simmons converted a put-back layup with two seconds left in overtime for what ended up being the deciding basket at the end of a back-and-forth game, as the Lions’ prevailed 66-64 over first-place Marriotts Ridge. The game featured made buzzer-beating shots to close the second, third and fourth quarters and Marriotts Ridge had a chance at another that would have potentially won the game. John Miller’s desperation heave bounced off the backboard, however, and Howard celebrated the victory.

Howard's Will Simmons talks about the Lions' 66-64 overtime win over Marriotts Ridge on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.

Ousman Touray scored twice, including the game-winner 1 minute, 13 seconds into overtime, and Wilde Lake finally got over the hump and beat previously undefeated River Hill, 2-1. The Hawks had won 18 of their previous 19 league contests with the previous year’s 2-2 tie with the Wildecats being the only blemish. After a scoreless first half, both teams scored in the second half to force the extra period.

At the end of a game that featured 12 lead changes and several huge swings of momentum, it was Atholton’s defense that ultimately stood tall in the game’s biggest moments. The Raiders held the host Gators scoreless for the final two minutes of overtime and stormed the court in celebration after Reservoir’s desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out, securing a 62-60 victory and the program’s first region title since 2009 in front of a sold-out crowd.

Jaylin Moore intercepted two passes, scored twice in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime, and converted the game-winning two-point conversion to lift the Mustangs to arguable their biggest win in school history by a score of 15-14. Forcing overtime took a miracle. River Hill, which led 7-0 after finally breaking down the Mustangs’ stingy defense on a 61-yard touchdown run by Anthony Behrmann in the third quarter, held the lead and possession with two minutes remaining. But Ryan Reeling recovered a fumble inside the River Hill 5-yard line and the Mustangs scored two plays later to force OT. River Hill scored first to open overtime, but Marriotts Ridge answered with its own touchdown and then went for two to secure the win in thrilling fashion.

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Highlights of Marriotts Ridge versus River Hill in a Howard County football game on Sept. 27, 2019.

After the Mustangs ended regulation, first and second overtime and the penalty shootout tied with No. 1 Hereford in the MPSSAA Class 2A semifinals, Emma Gladstein scored for Marriotts Ridge to start the sudden-death shootout, and Grace Tolle stopped the Bulls’ attacker to give Marriotts Ridge the 2-1 victory and send the Mustangs to the state title game. The game was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and after two scoreless overtime periods. Then the two teams tied 2-2 in the penalty shootout to set up the sudden death situation.