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Efficient scoring propels River Hill girls basketball team to convincing win over Centennial

River Hill senior Saniha Jackson, pictured here talking to Hawks coach Teresa Waters in a game earlier in her career, led the Hawks with 26 points in the team's 68-36 win over Centennial on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.
River Hill senior Saniha Jackson, pictured here talking to Hawks coach Teresa Waters in a game earlier in her career, led the Hawks with 26 points in the team's 68-36 win over Centennial on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (Doug Kapustin / For Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Basketball can be a complex game.

Whether it’s offensive schemes, defensive systems or the intricacies in between, the game is sometimes complicated.

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Wednesday’s game between River Hill and Centennial, however, wasn’t one of those times. The game was simple.

The Hawks made their shots, and the Eagles didn’t.

River Hill shot 56 percent from the floor — compared to 28 percent for Centennial — en route to a 68-36 win over the visiting Eagles.

“In the past, I haven’t spent as much time on offense. Now we’re trying to spend some extra time on it. We’ve put the time in on shooting in practice,” said River Hill head coach Teresa Waters. “What I liked the most was that we shared the ball tonight.”

While River Hill’s efficiency throughout the game was impressive, it was even better in the first three quarters — before backups started entering on both sides. Led by Saniha Jackson’s 26 points on 12-of-14 shooting, River Hill (8-0 Howard County, 11-3) was 25 for 40 (62.5%) from the field in the first 24 minutes.

“They’re a good ball team,” said Centennial head coach Rob Slopek. “They’re undefeated in the county and are defending state champs for good reason. I’m upset, because I felt like we had a good game plan and we had three days to prepare. We fell back into our old ways defensively — staring at the basketball and not helping. They did what great teams do. When they had open shots, they knocked them down.”

The performance from Jackson is her second highest point total this season. Her previous high was 30 points in a win over Oakland Mills on Dec. 20. She added seven rebounds and five blocks in the triumph Wednesday. The senior forward is leading the team with 15.8 points per game.

“I thought Saniha played extremely well,” Waters said. “She attacked the hole well.”

Centennial (4-3, 5-6) opened the game at River Hill with an 11-9 lead. The Hawks then trapped took advantage of a six-minute scoring drought from the Eagles and went on a 24-0 run. Turnovers were a key reason for the 24-0 run and throughout the game, as the Hawks forced 22 turnovers in the game.

“They put pressure on us,” Slopek said. “That’s probably the most turnovers we’ve had all season long. … We didn’t get in any kind of rhythm, and we let our body language to slump. Then it snowballed on us, and we panicked.”

Despite battling back to trail by 17 at halftime, the Eagles allowed the Hawks to go on another run — this time a 10-1 advantage — to open the second half. Joining Jackson in double figures were Kennedy Clark, who tallied 16 points and made four 3-pointers, and Anhyia Smith, who chipped in with 13 points. Jackson, Clark and Smith are all averaging more than 11 points per game this season.

“We all work well together,” Smith said. “We know each other’s games, and we are able to set each other up to score.”

Caroline Duffy also chimed in with eight points and 12 rebounds. The sophomore forward has joined Jackson down low as a rebounding and shot-blocking presence.

“She’s a good athlete,” Waters said. “She’s so valuable to us for many different reasons. She can rebound really well. She helps Saniha; they really complement each other.”

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While her contributions don’t often make the stat sheet, sophomore Erin Devine was key for the Hawks Wednesday. The scrappy guard, who often defends the opposing team’s best guard, held Centennial’s Brook Anderson — one of the best 3-point shooters in the county — to a season-low six points.

“Erin is my best defender,” Waters said. “She brings her defensive prowess every game. She plays really hard, and she sets the tone on defense.”

Both teams are back in action Friday. River Hill travels to Long Reach, while Centennial plays at undefeated Howard.

BOX SCORE:

River Hill 68, Centennial 36

RH (8-0, 11-3): S. Jackson 26, K. Clark 16, A. Smith 13, C. Duffy 8, E. Devine 2, A. Thompson 2, K. Moore 1.

C (4-3, 5-6): T. Pearson 15, B. Anderson 6, O. Reese 6, A. Urquiaga 3, O. Jackson 2, B. Fant 2, K. Porisi 2.

OTHER SCORES:

Glenelg Country School 36, Severn 20

The Dragons’ defense was dominant in the win. Will Harper’s squad didn’t led 26-6 at halftime and allowed on 10 points in the first three quarters. Ashlyn Bender led all scorers with 13 points, while Blair Byrne chipped in with 10 points.

Box score:

GCS (4-2 IAAM B, 9-7): A. Bender 13, B. Byrne 10, N. O’Ferrall 6, C. Haynes 3, A. Regan 2, R. Byrne 2.

Sev: Skinner 6, Tyron 4, Murphy 3, Sokoloff 3, Van Gieson 2, Reiter 2.

Halftime: 26-6, GCS

Oakland Mills 58, Hammond 55

The Scorpions earned the tough victory for their third straight triumph. Jaidyn Harris scored a career-high 24 points, while fellow senior Jazmine Washington followed suit with 19 points. Harris made six 3-pointers, two of which came in the fourth quarter. Washington made three key free throws in the final period to help seal the victory. Hammond was led by Jocelyn Fogle, who scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and freshman Maya Woodson, who tallied 14 points and 20 rebounds.

Box score:

OM (4-3, 8-4): J. Harris 24, J. Washington 19, R. Fairbanks 9, T. McDuffie 4, K. Browne 2.

Ha (2-6, 4-9): J. Fogle 22, M. Woodson 14, R. Smoot 8, K. Brown 5, D. Britt 4, M. Newby 2.

Halftime: 26-22, OM

Mt. Hebron 46, Glenelg 27

The Vikings snapped their three-game losing streak and got back to .500 with the convincing victory. Mt. Hebron raced out to a 10-2 lead in the first quarter and extended its lead to 15 points at halftime. Tori Valentine led the Vikings with 18 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five steals. Erin Dixon chipped in with a season-high 15 points.

Box score:

MH (4-3, 6-6): T. Valentine 18, E. Dixon 15, E. Hollis 4, A. Harrington 3, K. Milano 2, R. Vidal 2, A. Unkenholz 2.

G (1-7, 3-9): L. LaPointe 11, M. Sloan 6, A. Gillespie 3, K. Cook 3, J. Hirsch 3, G. Tolbert 1.

Halftime: 25-10, MH

Howard 57, Long Reach 20

Howard opened the game on a 39-0 run, and 12 Lions scored in the team’s 13th straight win to start the season. Gabby Scott led all scorers with 12 points. The sophomore forward scored seven points in the first period and made a 3-pointer in the second quarter.

Box score:

Ho (7-0, 13-0): G. Scott 12, S. Nasir 7, A. Harris 6, C. Malagar 5, M. Sanchez-Henry 5, E. Durkee 5, K. Sabitini 4, L. Fritz 4, K. McDuffie 3, L. Hume 2, K. Denicola 2, M. Coleman 2.

LR (0-7, 0-11): R. Baldwin 9, J. Putman 5, T. Whittle 4, S. Sims 2.

Halftime: 39-3, Ho

Wilde Lake 45, Atholton 34

The Wildecats snapped their four-game losing skid with the triumph. Wilde Lake’s defense was key in the second half, as the Wildecats held Atholton to 11 points in the last 16 minutes. Kalani Corkeron led all players with 17 points — eight of which came in the third period. Mia Swaby-Rowe chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds. Claire Zimmerman and Navaeh Brown both key crucial free throws in the final period to seal the win.

Box score:

WL (3-3, 4-5): K. Corkeron 17, M. Swaby-Rowe 16, C. Zimmerman 6, L. Richards 4, N. Brown 2,

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A (2-5, 3-8): L. Cowsette 7, N. Blair 7, K. Brown 7, M. McCabe 5, S. Mims 4, T. Kidd 4.

Halftime: 23- 21, A

Reservoir 51, Marriotts Ridge 47

The Gators came back from down 10 points in the second half to defeat the Mustangs. Marriotts Ridge stifled Reservoir in the first half with a box-and-one defense to key on Tiffany Hooker (28.3 points per game), but the Gators figured it out in the second half. Hooker scored 10 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter after making only one basket in the first three quarters. Lizzie Dudzinski and Daniah Moultrie played key defense against the Mustangs’ tall lineup, and Kate Abunassar scored a career-high 18 points with four 3-pointers.

Box score:

Re (4-3, 8-4): T. Hooker 20, K. Abunassar 18, M. Davis 5, A. Pressley 3, K. Holmes 2, L. Hardie 2, D. Moultrie 1.

MR (4-3, 9-4): E. Morath 15, E. Miller 10, M. Lee 9, K. Bryan 8, C. Crawford 3, K. Lee 2.

Halftime: 29-21, MR

TUESDAY’S SCORES:

Reservoir 72, Thomas Johnson 39

Tiffany Hooker scored a career-high 38 points with six 3-pointers. The senior guard added five rebounds, four assists and four steals to her stat line. Her previous career high 37 points, which she set on Jan. 3 against Oakland Mills. The win over Thomas Johnson was her fifth time this season setting or matching her career mark. The win was a bounce back performance for Hooker, who had two straight down games — by her standards — last week with 16 and 18 points, respectively. Freshman Amaya Pennington had the best game of her young career with 10 points and four rebounds.

Box score:

Re (3-3, 7-4): T. Hooker 38, A. Pennington 10, K. Abunassar 6, M. Davis 6, K. Holmes 5, L. Hardie 5, R. Malwitz 2.

TJ: S. Jones 18, E. Nwachaka 9, C. Gainey 4, D. Omusu 4, I. Young 3, J. Hardy 1.

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