For the most part, River Hill and Reservoir girls basketball Friday night looked very much like two teams still trying to get their feet under them during the first week of the season.
In the end, though, River Hill’s good stretches outweighed the bad in a 48-34 victory over the Gators.
Hawks’ senior Anhyia Smith scored a game-high 22 points, while sophomore teammate Taylor Shane was close behind with 16, to help River Hill (2-0, 3-0) shake off a slow start and put together an extended run between the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third to put the game out of reach.
“You can tell that we have been out of this for a very long time. That year off is very evident right now,” River Hill coach Theresa Waters said. “But Anhyia makes a huge difference on the court and we have some young players that I’m confident will get there. We just have a long way to go. I will take a win, though … you always take the win.”
Reservoir (0-1, 0-1), playing its first game of the season after having its first two contests earlier this week canceled because of coronavirus complications, was led in the loss by seven points apiece from the trio of Tori Keys, Riley Malwitz and Jessica Tran.
Gators’ coach Deb Taylor said turnovers, 29 in total, ultimately cost her team.
“My assistant coach said it’s been 647 days since our last real game in this gym. The girls have been playing AAU and summer ball, so you don’t necessarily feel like it’s been that long, but it’s still different playing that first one and in some ways it would have been nice to start with [a team] that wasn’t a 2A state champion a couple years ago,” Taylor said. “They have a great player in Anhyia and we didn’t show everything we are capable of tonight … too many turnovers and we shot poorly from the free throw line. But, big picture, I’m confident this experience will help us.”
The Gators took advantage of Smith starting the game on the bench, along with River Hill standout forward Caroline Duffy missing the game for a soccer event, to score the first five points of the night. Following a 3-pointer by Keys with 5:26 left in the opening quarter, the Reservoir lead was seven, 8-1, and Waters decided to call a timeout.
“Anhyia wasn’t on the floor, but the big thing was we were moving our feet and defending the other kids well during that 8-1 start,” Taylor said. “We had good energy, which was nice. Now the key is finding ways to sustain that for longer stretches.”
Following the timeout, Smith entered the game and ended up scoring on the next possession. By the end of the quarter, following a 3-pointer by Shane, River Hill had come all the way back to tie the game at 10-10.
Smith made a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Hawks took their first lead and went on to take a 23-18 advantage into the half.
The momentum carried over into the third quarter, as River Hill scored nine unanswered points to open up a 32-18 advantage. Reservoir never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
The third quarter, however, also showcased just how much work is left to be done moving forward for both teams. There were more combined turnovers (17) than combined points (16) between the two squads in the period and only one made field goal during a five-minute stretch to close the quarter.
“I think sometimes I do have to take a step back and adjust expectations. We are so anxious to get back to playing that it’s easy to forget that where we stopped [in 2020] is not where we are beginning now,” Waters said. “We have to adjust goals … we have to take baby steps. There are going to be stretches that are frustrating, but that’s what happens when you have so many young players with very little high school experience. It’s a work in progress.”
River Hill will be back in action on Wednesday against Atholton, while Reservoir will play the same day against Mt. Hebron.
River Hill 48, Reservoir 34
RH (2-0, 3-0): Smith 22, Shane 16, Watson 4, Billups 2, Heitzmann 2, Maloney 2.
Re (0-1, 0-1): Malwitz 7, Keys 7, Young 7, Tran 5, Jerome 3, Burian 3, Lapierre 2.
Half: 23-18 RH.