River Hill freshman guard Erin Devine talks about the Hawks' 48-46 victory over Oakland Mills on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019.
In a preview of a potential matchup in the upcoming 2A South region playoffs, River Hill evened up the season series against Oakland Mills on Monday and, in the process, spoiled the host Scorpions’ senior night.
The Hawks put together a 10-1 run during the middle of the fourth quarter to create their first double digit lead of the night, providing just enough cushion to hold off a late push from Oakland Mills for a 48-46 victory.
“I’m proud of the girls because they really stayed resilient, even when we struggled with our composure at times. We never lost that effort defensively and that’s what ultimately made the difference,” River Hill coach Teresa Waters said. “When we go through those stretches where we aren’t making shots, and we had a few of those today, we need to rely on making stops.”
It was a stop on the final Oakland Mills possession —where Hawks’ freshmen Erin Devine and Anihya Smith forced a tie up on the left wing — that ultimately ended up clinching the victory. Before that, the Scorpions had pulled within two thanks to an 8-0 run over the final four minutes of regulation.
But with the game hanging in the balance, River Hill (12-4 county, 15-7 overall) did not allow Oakland Mills (11-5, 17-5) to get a shot off.
The 12 county victories mark the most for River Hill since the 2012-13 season — that team finished 18-1 in league play that year and secured a share of the county title. This year’s group finishes alone in third place in the league standings, a game behind co-champions Howard and Long Reach.
Oakland Mills still holds on to the top seed in the upcoming region playoffs, but should a rubber match occur next week the Hawks will carry with them plenty of positive momentum.
“This will help us have more confidence the next time we play them because last time we lost,” said Devine, referring to a nine-point Oakland Mills win back in December. “This will help us in playoffs … we proved to ourselves that we can make the plays when we need to.”
Smith (14 points) and Saniha Jackson (12) did the heavy lifting offensively for the Hawks, while Emily Masker (9), Kennedy Clark (8) and Devine (5) all chipped in with timely baskets as well.
And, while disappointed in the defeat, it was the heart that his team showed in those closing minutes that Oakland Mills coach Walt Hagins says gives him positive feelings heading into the postseason.
“Win or lose, this was exactly the kind of game I thought we needed because we actually hadn’t played a single really close game coming down to the end all year. Our four losses were by double digits and every win has basically been by double digits, so I was hoping to see how we would react to those kind of end-of-game situations,” Hagins said. “Aside from the last possession, we did everything as well as I could have possibly hoped for. We got five stops in a row, ran our offense and gave ourselves a chance.”
The final quarter was an accurate snapshot of the game in general, with both teams trading extended runs.
Oakland Mills hit six 3-point shots in the opening 13 minutes of the game on the way to building a 27-16 advantage with three minutes left in the first half. But River Hill regrouped to score 11 straight points, capped by a fast-break layup from Smith, to create a tie game heading into the break.
“That momentum shift was huge. Being able to go into halftime knowing that, ‘Hey, we can play with this team,’ that was critical for us,” Waters said. “We were able to then go into third quarter like it was the beginning of the game all over again.”
The two teams traded the lead seven times in the third quarter before River Hill made its big move in the fourth. It was a 3-pointer by Smith with 4:51 left that gave the Hawks a 48-38 advantage — the team’s largest lead of the night.
River Hill ended up not scoring again, but the cushion was large enough to hold on.
River Hill 48, Oakland Mills 46
RH (12-4, 15-7): Smith 14, Jackson 12, Masker 9, Clark 8, Devine 5.
OM (11-5, 17-5): Grenway 14, Riggs 14, Washington 8, Scott-Pearson 7, King 3.
With the third seed in Section I of the 2A South region playoffs on the line, along with a chance to lock up the program’s first winning season since 2002, Hammond shook off a slow start to earn the seven-point road win over the Mustangs.
Marriotts Ridge, which was led on the evening by 23 points from Mallory Conroy, scored the first six points of the game and led 16-5 by the end of the first quarter. But the Golden Bears switched to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter to turn the tide and outscore the Mustangs 23-10 in the period for a 28-26 halftime lead.
After trading leads in the third quarter, Hammond sealed the win in the fourth thanks to a number of factors, including making 4 of 5 from the foul line.
"This meant so much to this school and this program. One of our season goals was to get the first winning record in 17 years, and we let some games slip away to make it come down to the last game,” first-year Hammond coach Ryan Hudy said. “And we couldn't have started worse in this game. Marriotts Ridge came out the hungrier team. We had no energy, bad passes, weak defense. Maybe the pressure of a winning season and the higher seed in the playoffs got to us.
Jocelyn Fogle (21 points and 10 rebounds), Taylor Liguori (16 points, 3 assists) and Imani Reid (16 points and 8 rebounds) all had huge efforts in the win for Hammond. Nyelle Allen (2 points, 9 rebounds) and Keisean Brown (6 points) also played critical roles throughout.
For the seniors the win was particularly special.
“Being able to bring home a winning record for the first time in 17 years is something I think everyone will remember for a long time,” said Liguori, who didn’t play last year as a junior while she was focusing on softball. “Coming back to play this year, that’s what I was hoping for and even though we’re not done yet, I’m so happy with the way this team has come together and how much we have grown throughout the season to get to where we are now. Getting this winning record is a surreal feeling.”
Ha (7-9, 12-10): Fogle 21, Liguori 16, Reid 16, Brown 6, Allen 2.
MR (7-9, 9-13): Conroy 23, Miller 16, Lee 6, Bryan 4, Crawford 3, Kohler 2.
Half: 28-26 Ha.
Mt. Hebron 52, Atholton 36
Tori Valentine stuffed the stat sheet (22 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals), helping the Vikings race out to a 21-6 lead by the end of the first quarter en route to a victory over the Raiders in the regular season finale for both teams. Eve Chase (9 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks) and Meredith Williams (9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks) also had big efforts on the interior for Mt. Hebron.
Alex Hargrett had 16 points to lead Atholton in the loss.
MH (10-6, 14-8): Valentine 22, Chase 9, Williams 9, Rodriguez 6, Oliver 4, Dixon 2.
A (5-11, 7-15): A. Hargrett 16, Blair 7, Brown 4, C. Morton 2, Sowah 2, Perlin 2, Kidd 2, M. Hargrett 1.