In the opening round of its own holiday tournament on Thursday, Howard secured their coach Scott Robinson an extra special gift.
Gabby Scott scored a career-high 21 points to go along with 15 rebounds, helping lead the Lions to a 45-33 victory over Liberty for Robinson's 400th girls basketball coaching win. Afterward, he was quick to credit those around him for the milestone.
"To me it's a reflection of being able to surround myself with really good people," said Robinson, who spent 13 years coaching the girls varsity program at Mt. Hebron before taking over at Howard prior to the 2010-11 season. "I have great staff, supportive administration and talented players … that's a combination that adds up to this kind of sustained success."
Howard, which improved to 6-1 this winter with the victory, has won at least 17 games in each of Robinson's eight seasons at the helm.
Earning No. 400 against Liberty, however, took holding off a second-half push from the visitors from Carroll County.
Howard had established a lead of as many as 25 points, 33-8, in the first half. Liberty, however, held the host Lions to just 12 points over the final 17 minutes of game action and scored the final nine points of the night to close within the final 12-point margin.
Alex Bull led the way for her team in the loss with 10 points.
The win advances Howard into the championship game of its tournament on Friday night against South River, which defeated Hammond by a score of 67-40 in its opening game.
"Liberty really played hard until the end and they were very focused. I was impressed with their intensity," Robinson said. "On our end, we weren't able to sustain the same effort from the first half to the second and that's something we will have to clean up if we want to have a chance tomorrow."
Scott was the key to the building of the early cushion against Liberty, as she scored 18 points in the first half alone on a mix of outside jumpers and layups around the basket. Then, in the latter stages, the Lions' freshman combined with junior Anii Harris (15 points) to score all but two of Howard's points in the second half.
"I think that we underestimated our opponent a little bit … but [at the end] we came out and ran our sets and that just helped us pull through," Scott said.
Howard 45, Liberty 33
Ho (6-1): Scott 21, Harris 15, Malagar 5, Durkee 2, Sanchez-Henry 2.
L: Bull 10, Thiem 8, Littlejohn 5, Thompson 4, Haggerty 3, Allen 2, Goetz 1.
Half: 33-13 Ho.
South River 67, Hammond 40
Ashlynn Burrows had 18 points and six rebounds and was one of three South River players in double-figures during Thursday's 67-40 victory over Hammond at the Howard Tournament. The Seahawks will play the host Lions in the title game on Friday at 7 p.m.
Kathleen Sullivan followed with 15 points and eight rebounds and Julia Fitzwater added 13 points and six rebounds. Harley Herndon added seven points, eight rebounds, eight assists and five steals and Keimani Smith grabbed eight rebounds for South River (6-0).
In the loss, Imani Reid led the way with a game-high 19 points for a Hammond team that trailed 29-20 at the half before South River pulled away for good in the third quarter.
SR (6-0): Burrows 18, Sullivan 15, Fitzwater 13, Herndon 7, Green 4, Megan C 4, Keimani S 2, Brown 2.
Ha (4-2): Reid 19, Liguori 12, Fogle 4, Allen 2, Sanme-Anylor 2, Beahm 1.
Half: 29-20 SR.
Mt. Hebron 54, Catholic 13
Mt. Hebron put together arguably its best quarter of the season during the opening day of the Holly and Hoops holiday tournament at Notre Dame Prep on Thursday, outscoring Catholic by 24 points in the third quarter en route to a convincing 54-13 victory.
Erin Dixon led the way with a game-high 15 points in a contest that saw all eight Vikings on the roster score and coach Tierney Ahearn said that while playing its first game in over a week her team got right back to having fun together.
"My favorite thing about this team is that they do everything that we ask them to do and never complain. So it was that exact kind of thing coming out of halftime … we said this is what you need to do and they came out and executed it," Ahearn said. "This group loves playing together, really playing for one another … it makes it almost too easy on us as coaches."
The Vikings had raced out of the gates to a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter before letting Catholic back into things going into halftime — with the Cubs outscoring the Vikings 7-5 in the second quarter.
But Mt. Hebron (4-3) turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter and scored the first 11 points of the period on the way to eventually creating a running clock heading into the final eight minutes.
Eve Chase (10 points), Katherine Milano (8 points) and Audrey Harrington (7 points) were the other leading scorers in the win for the Vikings, who also had Tori Valentine (6 points) play the role of lead distributor with a career-high 11 assists.
Mt. Hebron will play Western at 3 p.m. on Friday in its final game of the Holly and Hoops tournament.
MH (4-3): Dixon 15, Chase 12, Milano 8, Valentine 6, Harrington 5, Oliver 3, Williams 3, Unkenholz 2.
C: Borowy 3, Walz 3, Jones 2, Liggett 2, Mosca 2, Brandt 1.
Half: 19-7 MH.
River Hill 52, Holy Trinity 21
The Hawks established a nice balance between their inside and outside game on the way to the convincing win during the opening day of the Holly and Hoops holiday tournament at Notre Dame Prep.
River Hill forward Saniha Jackson scored a season-high 21 points and fellow forward Emily Masker added 10 points, while guard Kennedy Clark poured in 12 points of her own for a Hawks team that evened its record at 4-4 on the year.
"For our posts, there was a lot of mismatches and we tried to key on that and make sure everyone was scoring," Clark said.
After opening the game on an 11-2 run, the Hawks never trailed. The score was 24-8 at the half and then a 20-2 push in the third quarter officially put the game out of reach.
River Hill will play Catholic on Friday at 1 p.m. in its final game of the tournament.
RH (4-4): Jackson 21, Clark 12, Masker 10, Smith 4, O'Keefe 3, Heitzmann 2.
Wilde Lake 52, Northwestern 28
Kalani Corkeron scored a season-high 24 points and the Wildecats earned their first win of the season. Lily Richards and Mia Swaby-Rowe also had strong games with eight points apiece.
Wilde Lake was ahead just 15-8 at the half before scoring 37 points in the second half to break things open. The Wildecats will play Annapolis in the championship game on Friday at 4 p.m.
WL (1-5): Corkeron 24, Richards 8, Swaby-Rowe 8, Floyd 7, Johnson 2, Erielle 2, Mullican 1.
NW: Johnson 9, Tehogoue 4, Broderick 4, Herera 4, King 2, Bansu 2, Martinez 2, Hatcher 1.
Half: 15-8 WL.
Oakland Mills 60, Brunswick 28
The Scorpions got a game-high 18 points from Marley Grenway and five players scored seven or more points on the way to the lopsided victory that keeps the team undefeated.
OM (7-0): Grenway 18, King 13, Scott-Pearson 11, Riggs 7, McDuffie 7, Washington 2, Eldridge 2.
B: Stone 8, Gardner 6, Emily Stockman 4, Snyder 3, Ellen Stockman 2, Murphy 2, Long 2, Shaffer 1.
Manchester Valley 39, Marriotts Ridge 37
The Mavericks (3-5) prevailed in their holiday tournament consolation game behind Josey Klingenberg's 18 points, eight steals and five rebounds. Amelia Saunders added 13 for Manchester Valley.
Marriotts Ridge, meanwhile, lost by two points for the second straight night. Morgan Lee led the way with nine points, followed closely behind by eight points apiece from Emma Morath and Emma Miller.
MV (3-5): Klingenberg 18, Saunders 13, Johnson 4, Boswell 3, Warner 1.
MR (4-4): Lee 9, Morath 8, Miller 8, Conroy 5, Bryan 5, Plano 2.
Thomas Johnson 48, Centennial 41
The Patriots edged past the Eagles in the championship game of the Manchester Valley tournament, with Daysha Reid scoring a game-high 19 points to lead the way.
Brook Anderson paced the Eagles with 17 points.
TJ (9-0): Reid 19, Walmsley 10, Jones 10, Forbes 5, Bugg 4.
C (4-3): Anderson 17, Welsh 8, Pearson 5, Pellegrini 5, Dossett 4, Reese 2.
Half: 20-14 TJ.
Severna Park 37, Glenelg Country 34
SP (4-2): Albert 11, Ryan 8, Spilker 5, Powers 5, McLaughlin 4, Chew 2, Ward 2.
GC (6-4): Bender 12, Haynes 9, Denny 8, Chun 3, Pell 2.
Meade 63, Glenelg 34
Kaylah Easter scored 12 points, while Symphonie Brown and Briel Owens each scored eight points as the Mustangs (4-3) raced past the Gladiators at the Winters Mill Holiday Tournament.
Olivia LePage scored 11 points to lead the way for Glenelg.
M (4-3): Easter 12, S. Brown 8, Owens 8, Sewell 7, A. Brown 7, Reid 6, Smith 5, Hill 5, A. Duncan 4, S. Duncan 3.
G (1-6): LePage 11, Hirsch 7, Gillespie 5, Salafia 3, Tolbert 3, Anderson 2, Coburn 2, Castor 1.
Half: 30-15 M.