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OAKLAND MILLS GIRLS' LOSS JUST ONE ODD BOUNCE THIS WEEK

THE BALTIMORE SUN

This, that and the other:

The county's girls basketball race tooksome wild turns as the first round of the league schedule concluded last week.

During a one-week stretch, Glenelg handed Oakland Mills its firstloss of the season with a double-overtime 50-49 victory. Five days later, Howard nearly pulled off the same feat before losing at OaklandMills, 50-48. Two days later, Glenelg came to Howard, shot a microscopic 15.3 percent from the floor and got routed by the Lions, 58-32.

As the county heads into the second round, Oakland Mills and MountHebron are tied with 7-1 records, Howard has come on strong to go 6-2, while Glenelg is hanging in contention at 5-3.

Where will the next turn lead?

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Lost somewhat in recent action -- if that's possible for defending county and state champions -- was Mount Hebron. The Vikings have gone about their business quietly since dropping their first league game in nearly two years to Oakland Mills on Jan. 18.

Since then, Hebron has beaten five opponents by an average of 25 points. The Vikings' offense, led by dynamic sophomore point guard Erica McCauley, continues to hum along, averaging 56 points a game. Hebron has averaged 59.4 points since the Oakland Mills loss.

McCauley is doing it all for the Vikings. She's averaging 15.2 points, mainly on deadly 47 percent shooting from three-point range. She's also averaging 4.4 assists, 4.5 steals and is shooting 69 percent from the foul line. And she is committing only 2.4 turnovers a game.

Hebron's man-to-man defense still hasn't reached the level coach Dave Greenberg wants -- then again, is Greenberg ever satisfied with his defense? But the Vikings are working out the kinks and grinding teams down more. They've surrendered 35 points a game the last two weeks.

Nowthat Glenelg has knocked Oakland Mills into a first-place tie with Hebron, the Vikings control their own destiny. They'll face Howard Friday, Oakland Mills Tuesday and Glenelg Thursday.

Prediction: Hebron, with its league-best depth and with McCauley at the helm, will kick down the door Glenelg unlocked for them and roll to another county championship. I can't see the Vikings losing to Oakland Mills a second time.

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Friday night when Howard plays host to Hebron, fans willget to watch the league's two top players go at it -- McCauley and Howard's Kristi Greer.

Greer, fresh off a terrific 23-point, 16-rebound performance against Glenelg that saw her set a career school scoring record, keeps getting better. She's averaging 19.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 4.1 steals, one blocked shot, and is shooting 40.1 percent from the floor. Other than McCauley, she's the best outside shooter in the league.

Greer and the Lions put on the kind of show against Glenelg that can give a team long-lasting confidence. In beating the Gladiators for the second time this year -- after losing a heart-breaker two days earlier at Oakland Mills -- the 11-5 Lions established themselves as a team to be reckoned with come playoff time.

Howard winds up its regular season with a rematch at home against Oakland Mills, then could meet the Scorpions in the Class 3A Region I playoffs. What a title game that would be!

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Oakland Mills already had an excellent, proven starting foursome coming into the season in guards Mia Dammen and Stefanie Magro and forwards Christine Copeland and Andrea Romich. But the emergence of guard Suzanne Willis could be the key to their county title and postseason hopes. Howard decided to let Willis roam alone in the second half, and she burned the Lions with five baskets from the outside. She was the difference.

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Glenelg is still a strong 11-4, but the Gladiators have seen their promising prospects turn shaky in the space of a week. The Gladiators lost senior forward Leslie Service to a foot injury the day before the Howard blowout, and Glenelg coach Barb Wolf learned Monday that Service will be out of service for the season.

Service suffered a torn ligament and fractured a bone when she came down awkwardly on her foot with a rebound in practice. She will wear a cast for three more weeks, then begin a rehabilitation phase that will likely last anothermonth.

The Gladiators lose 6.3 points, six rebounds a game, and one of their better clutch players. Service did not miss a shot after halftime against Oakland Mills two weeks ago and scored 12 of Glenelg's last 14 points to beat the Scorps in double OT.

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Speaking of injuries, former Hebron star point guard Amy Eberhart is dealing with another setback. Eberhart, you may recall, went down with a knee injury last year in the regional championship game, then watched from thesidelines as Hebron won a state title at Catonsville Community College.

Towson State University awarded Eberhart a full basketball scholarship anyway, but she underwent reconstructive surgery Jan. 7 to correct persistent knee problems. She has been red-shirted and plans to resume playing again in October.

"I kept playing on it over the summer, and the anterior cruciate ligament wore away. My knee startedswelling while I was playing here. Then it got worse," said Eberhart, who never got into a practice routine. She is in her fourth week ofrehabilitation. With a full recovery, Eberhart could start at point guard next year for the Tigers.

"I feel real encouraged," said Towson coach Ellen Fitzkee. "Amy's got a real good work ethic. You always like the players who push themselves."

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The Oakland Mills wrestling team shored up its position as the team to beat at next weekend's county tournament with a tough, 37-25 victory over Wilde Lake last Thursday.

The teams were deadlocked at 25-25 heading into the final two matches. Justin Blackwell pinned Tony Ferace in the first period of the 189-pound match to clinch the victory, since heavyweight Monte Spencer won by forfeit.

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More news from the football scholarship front:

Wilde Lake's Joe Guyton, a First Team All-County cornerback, has made a verbal commitment to the University of Delaware.

And James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) has chosen Howard County to fill its only two recruiting slots at wide receiver. Glenelg'sJuan Dorsey and Hammond's Cliff Epps have announced they will attendJames Madison.

Dorsey, a First Team All-County selection, led theBaltimore metropolitan area with 61 receptions last fall. Epps started the season at quarterback, injured his knee in mid-season, then made a successful switch to wide receiver.

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