Howard County enjoyed its most prestigious weekend in girls basketball history, as the county sent four teams -- Mount Hebron, Oakland Mills, Howard and Glenelg -- to regional championship games yesterday.
Top-seeded Mount Hebron, fresh off securing its 11th county title in 13 seasons under Coach Dave Greenberg, beat Hammond, 63-37 in Thursday's Class 2A Region II semifinal, setting up a regional title match last night against visiting Towson (Baltimore County).
Top-seeded Oakland Mills and second-seeded Howard, which finishedsecond and third in the county, advanced to a Class 3A Region I final showdown last night at Oakland Mills.
The Scorpions eliminated Liberty (Carroll County), 69-41, in one semifinal Thursday.
Howard earned another rematch with Oakland Mills by dealing host Linganore (Frederick County) a 48-45 defeat in the other Thursday semifinal. Oakland Mills beat Howard twice during the regular season.
Glenelg, the county's fourth-place team and second seed in Class 2A Region I, also beat visiting Middletown, 47-40, in a semifinal Thursday (see story), setting up yesterday's regional final at top-seeded Watkins Mill in Montgomery County.
Each championship game was played after the Howard County Sun's deadline. The winners advance to next weekend'sstate tournament at Catonsville Community College.
Mount Hebron (20-3) won its 13th straight game and took another step toward its fifth state championship in six years with another overwhelming offensive performance.
Sophomore guard Erica McCauley led the Vikings witha game-high 20 points on 4-for-6 shooting from three-point range.
Senior guards Cescili Drake (18 points) and Christy McCauley (nine) supplied the bulk of the other offense. Eight of Drake's points came in the first quarter, when Hebron raced to a 19-11 lead and never looked back.
"Cescili got us going, then Christy hit a three, then Erica hit a couple of threes, and we just rolled from there," said Greenberg.
The Vikings hit 24 of 54 shots (44.4 percent) and were 5-for-13 from three-point range.
Drake (8-for-12) and Erica McCauley (8-for-15) were the top Hebron shooters. McCauley added eight assists and four steals. Drake had four assists and three steals. Christy McCauley added four steals.
Hebron, which has lost senior guard Melissa Murdza -- a valu
able defensive specialist off the bench -- for the season to a knee injury, received a scare when senior forward Andrea Day (two points, five rebounds) left the game in the second half with a strained tendon in her ankle.
After a doctor's exam Friday, however, Day was cleared to play last night.
Kacey Williams led Hammond with 12 points. The Bears made their first playoff appearance infour years under coach Joe Russo.
Oakland Mills (21-2) also experienced a frightening moment against Liberty with 3:19 left in the first quarter, when senior guard Mia Dammen tumbled to the floor with a sprained ankle. While Dammen was having the ankle taped on the bench,Liberty closed to within 17-12 at the end of the period.
Dammen reentered the game at the start of the second quarter, and the Scorpions began clicking again.
By halftime, Oakland Mills held a commanding 36-20 lead, and Dammen and fellow senior guard Stefanie Magro hadalready combined for 25 points.
"She (Dammen) came over to the bench and said all she needed was 15 seconds to rest," said Scorpions coach Teresa Waters.
"Then she comes back out strong. I think we would've been OK without her, but it would have been tough. She makes the other players look good."
Dammen finished with 25 points, 12 steals, five rebounds and three assists.
Magro finished with 22 points, a team-high 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Seniorforward Andrea Romich added six points, eight rebounds and eight steals.
Howard (17-7) overcame a tough Linganore team, a rough shooting night by senior guard Kristi Greer (12 points on 5-for-22 shooting), and the flu.
Junior forward Emily Petrlik, who hadn't practicedall week due to the flu, came off the bench to score four points andgrab a team-high 13 rebounds. Junior forward Krista Fulton, who had been fighting an illness for two days, scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Sophomore guard Camille Powell scored 12 points (5-for-11 shooting) and had seven steals and three assists.
Junior guard Sharon Ford scored 10 points. Greer added seven rebounds and fiveassists.
The Lions took the lead early in the second quarter and never trailed. They held a 10-point lead at halftime, but just when it appeared Howard would cruise to victory, Greer and Fulton picked uptheir third fouls, almost simultaneously, three minutes into the third quarter. While they sat on the bench for the last five minutes of the period, Linganore sliced the lead to 36-32.
"Those five minutes felt like five hours," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell.