Howard girls basketball defeats Old Mill, 58-57, at Northeast High School.
With high expectations heading in to the season, Howard knew a victory over 2016 4A state semifinalists Old Mill on Saturday would be an early statement win.
"We knew they were going to be a tough match, so we just went out hard," said junior guard Courtney Furr, who helped the Lions clinch the 58-57 victory after posting a game-high 19 points. "Everyone contributed, it was a team effort and we wanted to beat them really, really bad."
Howard and the Patriots capped off the day's slate of games at Northeast High School on Saturday and the anticipation of the matchup proved to be more than warranted.
The contest was tight throughout, but the Lions did not take their first lead until early in the third quarter, after Furr knocked down a 3 to make the score, 28-27.
From that point forward there were 11 different lead changes.
Old Mill held a 40-38 advantage heading in to the fourth quarter, but Deonna Jones tied the game back up on the Lions' opening possession.
"We have a lot of interchangeable parts," said Lions coach Scott Robinson. "I thought Courtney Furr gave us a huge game. I thought Deonna gave us a huge day. I thought all the girls played hard. I thought the last minute the defense was spectacular that we played in the last couple possessions. If someone doesn't have a good night we just have someone else that can pick them up. We have depth."
After the Patriots' Brandi Hall (seven points) responded with a bucket on the other end, a trey by Sam Lewis gave Howard back the lead with 6:46 to play.
Alayshia Dailey (team-high 16 points) tied the game up at 46-all after making 1-of-2 from the foul line with 5:10 left, but following a Lions timeout, Lewis drew the foul from outside the perimeter and earned three attempts from the line. She sank all three and Howard never let go of the lead from then on.
Old Mill answered with a bucket on the other end, but the Lions went on a mini 7-0 run in the following two minutes, which started with a clutch 3 by Furr and capped off by a reverse lay-in by Furr with 2:54 to play, which put Howard up, 56-49.
"I think the difference was that we just started hitting shots. We started boxing out the post. We played tough on the two big girls because we knew they were going to be a threat and so, yeah we just played our hearts out," Furr said. "I felt like I had to step up. I was the one hitting shots at the moment, so I had to keep shooting it and keep getting it inside and distributing it. Eventually shots just started to falling and it just came together for the whole team."
The Lions struggled hitting their foul shots toward the end of the game, which allowed the Patriots to creep back in.
Destiny Galloway (eight points) hit a 3, and then Dailey hit on both one-and-one free throw attempts to get Old Mill within two.
With 45 seconds remaining Taylor Addison, who played tough underneath the rim all night, attacked the hoop and earned a trip to the line where she hit on both. But Dailey quickly responded, as she knocked down a jumper with 35 seconds remaining to cut the Lions lead, 58-57.
Howard made two defensive stops, but Lewis could not connect on either free throw attempts on a one-and-one with 18.9 and 13.2 seconds remaining.
There then was some controversy after the Patriots earned back possession, as they immediately called for a timeout to work on an inbound play. The scoreboard and the Lions visiting book had Old Mill out of timeouts, which would have resulted in a technical foul, but the Patriots bookkeeper said the team had one full timeout remaining and the referees sided with the home team, which is considered the official game book.
"I told them that we just needed to overcome it," Robinson said. "I told them we'd be fine. We just needed to overcome it and they did to their credit. They focused and made a couple key defensive stops."
Out of the break Old Mill, with 3.6 seconds left, inbounded the ball to Dailey but Lions freshman Marisa Sanchez-Henry played tight defense and did not allow a shot or pass to get off. Time expired and the Lions stormed the court.
"I think it's huge for our program and I think it's huge for Howard County," Robinson said. "They only lost one game all of last year and that was in the [semifinals] and that was after their best player tore her ACL, so it's a big win. [It's] a big win for Howard County and I think it's a big win for our program. It just shows we can compete with anybody."
Furr finished the night 8-of-10 from the field, while Addison recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds – six on the offensive glass. Lewis also recorded 12 points and also added three blocks, while Jones recorded seven points and six boards. Jenny Kinsey chipped in with three points and had a team-high four assists.
"I thought Taylor was a monster rebounding, particularly in the beginning of the game and throughout she was a real warrior. Marisa got some foul trouble in the first half, one really tough call – a couple tough calls. But she really came in and gave us [good minutes] and Camille [Malagar] came in and gave us good minutes too," Robinson said. "We scrimmaged Good Counsel – I know they are ranked third in the Washington Post – and we did extremely well. So the girls have confidence and tonight, honestly, we persevered, but we could have played better."
The Lions are back in action Dec. 14 as they host Atholton in their home-opener for a 5:30 p.m. matchup.
Howard 58, Old Mill 57
Ho (1-0, 1-0): Furr 19, Addison 12, Lewis 12, Jones 7, M. Sanchez-Henry 3, Kinsey 3, Scott 2.