The senior guard had 18 points and brought the Howard girls basketball team back from a halftime deficit with 10 points in the third period.
But Harris was hurt late in the fourth quarter against visiting South River with leg cramps. The Lions were trailing by one point with less than three minutes remaining, and their go-to player was forced to get looked at by the trainer
However, in the 90 seconds Harris was on the bench, fellow senior Marisa Sanchez-Henry took charge and made two straight baskets to lead the Lions to a 49-47 win over the Seahawks in the Howard Holiday Classic championship.
“I trust Marisa, and I knew she was going to take over,” said Harris. “I had no doubt.”
Howard senior Marisa Sanchez-Henry talks Lions girls basketball after the team's 49-47 win over South River in the Howard Holiday Classic championship.
“Marisa is fun to coach,” said Howard coach Scott Robinson. “Good things happen when the ball is in her hands. Her decision-making is outstanding.
Henry finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Her first left-handed layup put Howard (8-0) up 46-45, and her second basket — a put-back layup after she grabbed an offensive rebound — gave the Lions a three-point lead.
“I know the pressure is going to be on me,” Henry said. “I’m the point guard, and the point guard has to make good decisions. … I just have to make sure I keep my composure through times like this.”
Harris re-entered with about a minute left, stole a pass and made a free throw to put Howard up 49-47. Despite having three scoring chances in the final 20 seconds, South River (6-1) couldn’t score.
“We called timeout and sort of saw what they were going to do,” Robinson said. “We didn’t want to foul, and I think the girls played tough. They had three or four straight out of bounds plays, and they weren’t able to get a good shot off.”
The tournament championship was an opportunity for both No. 7 South River and No. 5 Howard to play a competitive non-county game. The Seahawks lost in the Class 4A East championship last season, while the Lions lost in the 4A North semifinals.
“This was like a playoff atmosphere,” South River head coach Mike Zivic said. “That’s the reason we’re here. We played a quality team (on Thursday) in Liberty and another quality team today.”
Both teams have won almost all of their games by double digits this season. Specifically for Robinson, his Lions had won by an average of 31 points per game entering Friday.
“I love playing them, because they’re so well coached,” Robinson said. “They’re tough kids, and they really get after it. They’re fun to play. I told the girls that it would be a close game.”
Howard started the championship game hot. The Lions sped out to an 8-0 lead, but South River then went on a 9-1 run to tie the game. After Howard led 14-11 at the end of the first period, South River took its first lead, 19-18, midway through the second quarter. The Seahawks, led by Ashlynn Burrows (16 points) and Harley Herndon (10 points), had the lead for much of the next two quarters and took a four-point advantage into halftime. Senior Julia Fitzwater led South River in the first half with three made 3-pointers. She ended the game with four made 3s and forced Robinson to switch from a zone defense to a man defense.
“Those were huge,” Zivic said about Fitzwater’s 3-point shooting. “Those got us on a little bit of a roll there.”
“She’s a great shooter,” Robinson said. “We told our girls before the game that you couldn’t give her any space, and she still ended with four 3s.”
Harris then led Howard in the third period with 10 points. The senior created separation with a quick first step and finished in traffic with four layups in the period. She ended the game with 19 points.
“I saw more lanes open up for me,” Harris said. “I took it to the basket more and focused on finishing. … I knew we were down, and someone had to take over.”
Despite trailing in a meaningful way for the first time all season, the Lions didn’t crack under pressure. The team’s senior leaders — Camille Malagar (eight points, three rebounds, three assists and five steals), Sanchez-Henry and Harris — remained calm despite the deficit, which grew as large as five points in the third period.
“It’s always fun to have a nail-biter game,” Sanchez-Henry said. “This game gives us an idea of how good we can be and what we need to work on.”
Howard’s Gabby Scott (10.4 points per game) didn’t have her best night from the field, but the sophomore forward had three crucial blocks in the fourth quarter. She finished the game with nine points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. With key contributions from each of his top four players, Robinson said winning as a team makes the triumph even more impactful.
“It’s good to have that balance,” Robinson said.
Howard is back in action on Friday, Jan. 3, at home against Marriotts Ridge, while South River travels to Huntingtown on Thursday, Jan. 2.
Howard 49, South River 47
Ho (3-0 Howard County, 8-0): A. Harris 19, M. Sanchez-Henry 13, G. Scott 9, C. Malagar 8.
Marriotts Ridge defeated Notre Dame Prep in the championship game of the Manchester Valley Tournament. Both teams struggled to find buckets throughout the game, but Marriotts Ridge, led by Emma Miller (14 points), made six key free throws in the final two minutes of the game.
MR (2-1, 7-2): E. Miller 14, E. Morath 7, N. Held 4, M. Lee 4, K. Bryan 2, C. Meininger 2, K. Lee 2.
NDP: L. Regan 6, E. DeFries 6, M. Mercadante 4, E. Ezumba 4, S. Davis 4, A. Rudolph 2.
Glenelg 45, Bryn Mawr 44
Arianna Cook led Glenelg to the comeback win to open the Winters Mill Holiday Tournament. Cook scored 20 points, all of which came in the second half with 15 in the fourth quarter, in the triumph. Bryn Mawr made a free throw to go up 44-43 late in the game, but Cook made a layup, assisted by Jocelyn Torres. Bryn Mawr had one more possession, but Glenelg’s Lily Davis blocked the shot to seal the victory. The Gladiators will play Severna Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Winters Mill High School.
G (1-3, 3-3): A. Cook 20, L. LaPointe 7, J. Torres 5, A. Gillespie 4, G. Tolbert 3, M. Sloan 3, J. Hirsch 3.
BM: B. Vinson 17, A. Hurlbrink 9, F. Polito 6, F. Udeh 4, Z. Faraone 4, A. Harbaugh 4.
Halftime: 20-10, BM
Severna Park 42, Centennial 30
The Eagles fell to the Falcons in the first round of the Winters Mill Holiday Tournament. Centennial will play Clarksburg at 11:30 a.m. at Winters Mill on Saturday. Brook Anderson led the team with 14 points.
C (1-2, 2-4): B. Anderson 14, L. Pellegrini 7, A. Urquiaga 3, C. LasCasas 2, T. Pearson 2, S. Sopchick 2.
SP: Albert 13, Stasulli 7, Bragg 6, McLaughlin 4, Betch 4, Nwuli 2, Cleary 2, Chew 2, Ryan 2.
Halftime: 21-10, SP
Mt. Hebron 54, Bowie 38
The Vikings advance to the championship game of the Bowie Holiday Tournament at 3 p.m. Saturday against Poly. Tori Valentine led Hebron with 26 points. Mt. Hebron didn’t allow a point in the second quarter and led 28-7 at halftime.
MH (2-1, 4-2): T. Valentine 26, A. Harrington 9, A. Unkenholz 6, R. Vidal 6, C. Smith 4, K. Milano 3.
Halftime: 28-7, MH
Oakdale 41, River Hill 32
Despite trailing 6-1 at the end of the first quarter, Oakdale defeated River Hill, which was without Anhyia Smith (15.7 points per game). The Hawks will play Bryn Mawr at 11:30 a.m. at Winters Mill High School.
Oak: G. Averill 15, S. Foster 11, N. Etchison 5, A. Austin 4, S. Blaylock 3, B. Weadon 2, T. Hardesty 1.
RH (4-0, 5-2): K. Clark 14, C. Duffy 12, S. Jackson 6.
St. Charles 70, Hammond 40
SC: M. Johnson 23, J. De Shields 12, J. Walton 11, O. Felix 8, I. Price 8, M. Jones 5, F. Chesley 2, C. Brown 1.
Ha (0-3, 1-5): J. Fogle 12, R. Smoot 10, M. Woodson 7, K. Brown 5, H. Chambers 4, D. Britt 2.