Swarming defense helps River Hill boys basketball pull away from Hammond to open 3A East playoffs

After a sluggish start to its 3A East Region II game against Hammond on Friday, River Hill finally settled in in the closing minutes of the first half and never looked back on its way to a convincing 50-28 victory over the Golden Bears.

Nick Marshall (14 points) and Tishe Saliu (11) led the offensive charge and the entire Hawks’ team strapped up defensively, holding the Golden Bears to just five points in the first 14 minutes of the second half to pull away for the win.

Highlights from the River Hill boys basketball 50-28 victory over Hammond in the opening round of the 3A East Region II playoffs on Friday, Feb. 28.

River Hill (12-11) had trailed Hammond (8-15) by three points, 17-14, with 3:07 left in the second quarter following a 3-pointer by the Golden Bears’ Ian Addison (12 points). But Marshall proceeded to close the quarter with eight unanswered points of his own to give the Hawks a 22-17 advantage at the break.

The momentum carried into the third quarter, as River Hill outscored Hammond 11-3 in the period to create a double-digit advantage they never lost the rest of the way.


“Our defense was running around and doing its thing like we have all season, but what we needed was someone getting confident to make shots,” River Hill coach Matt Graves said. “Nick finally got going, then Tishe stepped up and Jackson [Graves] hit some threes. Before you know it we were up 12-14 points and the confidence became contagious.”

Jackson Graves ended up hitting three 3-pointers on the evening, while also registering seven steals.

The Hawks, who avenged a double-overtime loss to Hammond from back in December, advance into a regional semifinal game on Tuesday against top-seeded Reservoir. The Gators won the lone regular season meeting between the two teams, 37-29.

Graves says defense will again be key in that contest, but finding consistency offensively is just as important.


“We are going to have to really rely on our defense in that one to create offense,” he said. “We know that we can defend them, we showed that the first time during the regular season, but if we don’t play offense it could get ugly.”

River Hill 50, Hammond 28 (3A East Region II)

RH (12-11): Marshall 14, Saliu 11, Graves 9, Lawal 3, McCann 3, McKoy 3, Smith 3, Jahangir 2, Lynott 2.

Ha (8-15): Addison 12, King 6, Edwards 4, Aodu 2, Johnson 2, Thomas 2.

Half: 22-17 RH.

Other scores:

Wilde Lake 79, Manchester Valley 22 (3A East Region I)

Despite playing with a running clock the majority of the second half, the Wildecats set a season-high for points scored in their opening-round victory over Manchester Valley on Friday.

Senior Marcus Mitchell set the tone with 13 of his season-high 23 points coming during a first quarter where Wilde Lake rolled out to a 23-4 lead. The advantage ballooned to 47-16 by halftime.

Highlights from Wilde Lake boys basketball beating Manchester Valley 79-22 in the opening round of the 3A East Region I playoffs on Friday, Feb. 28.

“The message tonight was that we aren’t taking anyone for granted, I don’t care who they are. With seven seniors, if you don’t come out ready, this could be it,” Wilde Lake coach Deon Wingfield said. “We had a really good week of practice, they were focused and they were loose. That carried right over into the game.”

Max Valentine (11 points), Cam Burris (10) and Brince Shelton (10) all joined Mitchell in double figures. But the real story on a night where Wilde Lake didn’t play its starters at all during the final 10 minutes of the game was the balance. Eleven different players scored at least two points.

For Valentine, who hit three straight 3-pointers during one stretch in the second half, the offensive effort was a career high.

The seedings have been released for the 2020 boys and girls MPSSAA basketball tournaments, which begin on Friday, Feb. 28, and the Howard County teams are split up between the 4A East, 3A East and 2A West regions.

Even better for Wilde Lake, its defense held Manchester Valley scoreless for the first 14 minutes of the second half.

Wilde Lake advances to face top-seeded Westminster in the 3A East Region I semifinals on the road Tuesday.

“Tonight was a huge game in terms of confidence heading into that game against Westminster,” Wingfield said. “Everyone got a chance to play and feel like they were able to be a part of the victory, which is big for when we may need to call on any of them moving forward.”

WL (15-8): Mitchell 23, Valentine 11, Burris 10, Shelton 10, Bethea 6, Macktoon 5, Boampong 4, Constant 4, Avinger 2, Ninney 2, Tadjou 2.

MV (6-15): Dukes 11, Bowen 4, Wunder 2, Brady 2, Ruggeri 2, Dewees 1.

Half: 47-16 WL.

Centennial 59, Mt. Hebron 40 (3A East Region I)

Centennial didn’t give Mt. Hebron a chance to pull off an upset in their MPSSAA Class 3A East Region I quarterfinal game on Friday. The No. 3-seeded Eagles opened the game on an 11-0 run and never let No. 6 Mt. Hebron get within six points the rest of the way en route to a 19-point triumph.

"We do know Mt. Hebron very well," said Centennial head coach Chris Sanders. "The message was to double down on everything we've emphasized throughout the year. We knew if we brought the intensity as we had the last couple of games defensively that we'd be in a good position, but the offense was a nice way to start the game."

Joey Sedlacko led the Eagles with 16 points, while Jeong Hwang (nine points), Brandon Bonner (eight points) and Shane Taylor (eight points) chipped in with solid days offensively as well. The Vikings, meanwhile, were led by Evan Ichrist's 13 points.

No. 3 Centennial will travel to No. 2 Marriotts Ridge in the 3A East Region I semifinals on Tuesday. In their only matchup in the regular season, the Mustangs defeated the Eagles, 60-55, on opening night in December.

“Both teams are probably very different now,” Sanders said. “I look forward to the rematch.”

C (18-5): Sedlacko 16, Hwang 9, Bonner 8, Taylor 8, Baker 6, Grable 3, Shickner 3, Lovering 2, Woerner 2, Benavides 2.

MH (1-22): Ichrist 13, Millen 8, Lewis 6, Cargiulo 6, Briggs 4, Brown 3.

Half: 34-22 C.

- Jacob Calvin Meyer

Atholton 75, Long Reach 50 (3A East Region II)

The Raiders came out firing, hitting four threes — including three by Jordan Oates (game-high 24 points) — in the first quarter on the way to establishing a lead they never lost the rest of the way. Raymond Brown (15 points) and Jabari Rankin (11) joined Oates in double figures scoring.

Atholton advances to face second-seeded Oakland Mills in the 3A East Region II semifinals on Tuesday.

Kojo Addo scored 16 points in the loss to lead the Lightning.

A (16-7): Oates 24, Brown 15, Rankin 11, Swartz 7, Miller 6, Daniel 5, Anderson 3, Nwaklor 2, Scott 2.

LR (5-18): Addo 16, Olivis 9, Raymond 7, Zaky 7, Brown 4, Saunders 3, Yarboguh 3, Justin B 1.

Half: 39-23 A.

Glenelg 49, Winters Mill 37 (2A West Region I)

Trailing by nine points, 13-4, after the first quarter, the Gladiators settled in and controlled the rest of the game on the way to advancing to the region semifinals.

Robbie Tolbert scored a game-high 14 points and Glenelg advances to face second-seeded Liberty on the road Tuesday.

G (11-12): Tolbert 14, Walsh 8, Curtis 7, Dry 6, Pearcy 6, Owens 6, Della Russo 2.

WM (0-21): Popielski 12, Fullerton 6, Graf 6, Hakbow 4, Davidson 3, Johnson 3, Sebad 3.

Half: 23-17 G.

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