Howard County Sports

River Hill boys basketball speeds up the pace, races past Glenelg, 62-41

River Hill defeated Glenelg by nine on Jan. 11 with both teams playing at a slower pace. Wednesday night was a different story with the Hawks altering their traditional playing style.

River Hill typically plays at a more methodical pace, much like Glenelg. . However, at halftime of Wednesday night’s game River Hill coach Matt Graves told his players he wanted them to play faster.


He encouraged the Hawks to use their athleticism to push the pace in transition and cause havoc for the Gladiators’ zone defense. Following their coach’s words, River Hill executed a big third-quarter run to break the game open, en route to a 62-41 victory, ending Glenelg’s four-game winning streak.

“At halftime I told them, ‘We really have to open this game up and make them play at a different pace, which we’re not accustomed to playing’” Graves said. “I knew the athletes that we had. We had rested so many guys in the first half that I knew our starting five could get out there and really blow things up. They did and they made it a running game.


“The first thing was, let’s get to the rim and make them defend. If we have to kick it out we will, but we really changed up the game a lot in that third quarter.”

River Hill (10-5, 9-3 Howard County) established control early on. Operating efficiently against the Gladiators’ 3-2 zone defense, the Hawks jumped out to a 12-0 lead four minutes into the game. Seniors Demetre Koutras and Matt Behrmann scored all 12 points. Koutras found creases in the high post, using his size to attack the paint, while Behrmann, a prolific corner 3-point shooter, knocked down a pair off long rebounds. River Hill led by nine after the opening quarter.

River Hill's Aiden Igwebe puts up a shot against Glenelg's Ty Jenkins during Wednesday's game.

“All yesterday in practice with Coach we were working on that,” Koutras said. “We just really want to work the middle and the short corners because in the 3-2 zone, that’s the weakness. So, once we get there it should be easy layups.”

Glenelg’s offense improved in the second quarter, but the Gladiators (6-8, 5-7) were unable to put together consecutive stops. Six different Hawks scored during the second, a byproduct of their unselfishness, building a 17-point halftime lead.

The Gladiators looked to make a comeback after Siji Jolayemi’s tip-in follow, however, River Hill quickly changed that with a 17-3 run.

“I think our communication broke down on defense,” Glenelg coach Alex Blazek said. “We thrive when we talk and when we stop talking things like that can happen.”

Aiden Igwebe and Behrmann knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, extending the lead to 22. River Hill’s defense caused several Gladiators turnovers, leading to fast-break opportunities. Igwebe capitalized on those mistakes with nine of his team-high 16 points over that span, including a thunderous dunk that electrified the home crowd. Glenelg went 5:13 without a field goal, ending the third trailing by 31.

“I just came out with a lot of energy coming into the second half,” Igwebe said. “Coach had a good speech at halftime, so I just came out with a lot of energy. The crowd was here, so I just had to build some momentum.”


Glenelg’s offense executed at its best in the fourth, but the deficit proved too large to overcome. Will Piwowarski scored eight of his team-high 11 in the final period. River Hill closed out its fourth straight win, also sweeping the season series with the Gladiators, next awaiting a rematch with Reservoir on Friday night.

“I told them February is the month you need to win in because that’s when playoffs come around,” Graves said. “I think we’re gradually getting there. I don’t think we’ve reached our ceiling yet, but we’re in a good spot heading to Reservoir on Friday and I think the kids are really pumped up since we lost to them the first time.”

River Hill’s Demetre Koutras puts up a shot against Glenelg’s Caleb Towle, center, and D.J. Anderson during Wednesday's game.