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Howard County Times
Howard County Sports

Anhyia Smith’s clutch bucket lifts River Hill girls basketball over Mt. Hebron, 52-49

Trailing by one with less than 30 seconds left, River Hill senior Anhyia Smith dodged a defender to create space, drove downhill and converted a tough layup. In a game that was back-and-forth down the stretch, that basket put the Hawks back on top for good.

Sophomore Taylor Shane tacked on a pair of free throws in the final 10 seconds, clinching a 52-49 victory. Smith’s pivotal bucket gave her 17 points on the night, while Shane totaled 25 points to lead River Hill’s (5-1, 4-1) offensive attack.

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“I knew I had to get a bucket to help us get the lead,” Smith said.

While the game came down to the final seconds, River Hill took complete command during the opening quarter. The Hawks led 18-4 after the opening eight minutes, stifling the Vikings offense, not allowing them to settle in as Mt. Hebron was missing two starters. Shane scored 10 of the team’s 18 first-quarter points, showcasing her versatility to attack off the dribble and shoot from behind the arc.

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“I was just in my zone,” Shane said of her offensive success. “I was just trying to set my teammates up and then they set me back up. It was just a perfect match.”

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The second quarter was a different story as the Vikings chipped away at the lead. After scoring four points in the first, Mt. Hebron (6-1, 4-1) bounced back with 14 in the second. That offensive success was fueled by aggressiveness attacking the basket, converting 10 of 14 attempts at the charity stripe in the quarter and 16 of 25 overall.

“It’s something we’ve been spending a lot of time working on because in the past it’s killed us,” Mt. Hebron Tierney Ahearn said of the free-throw shooting. “I feel like it’s been really beneficial the amount of time we’ve taken at the line this year for sure.”

Down by double-digits after the break, the Vikings continued to chip away at the lead led by seniors Erin Dixon and Audrey Harrington. The veteran tandem scored 11 of the team’s 16 points in the period as they trailed 40-34 after three quarters.

Persistent in their comeback efforts, Mt. Hebron trimmed the lead to three less than a minute into the final quarter. On the ensuing Hawks possession, Smith drilled a clutch triple pushing River Hill’s lead to six. But three minutes later, Dixon converted a layup giving the Vikings their first lead of the game, 44-43.

Maintaining the back-and-forth action, Smith answered with a triple as the Hawks regained a 46-44 lead with 2:56 remaining. After Harrington and Shane exchanged baskets, Mt. Hebron trailed 48-46 looking to recapture the lead with under 90 seconds remaining. Dixon did exactly that, knocking down a triple from the top of the key energizing the Vikings’ bench.

Trailing for only the second time, River Hill leaned on its experience in the final moments. One of three team captains, Smith laid in the aforementioned layup helping secure the victory.

“In all honesty between [Taylor] and [Anhyia] it’s got to be in one of their hands when it comes down to the wire,” River Hill coach Teresa Waters said. “Ideally Anhyia because she’s a veteran player, but Taylor puts so much time into her game that when she got to the free throw line, it was pretty much a sure deal.”


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