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A Howard High boys basketball season that began with great promise has hit a snag.

The Lions suffered their fourth straight loss Friday night at Howard -- a 73-61 decision to Loch Raven.

And their play clearly showed the negative effects of not having their head coach for an extended period of time -- as well as not having played a game since Dec. 18.

Thanksgiving Day, Coach Rich Jenkins' mother died. Exactly three weeks later, his father died.

The Lions, who had scored impressive wins over Edgewood and Liberty with Jenkins at the helm during their first two games, lost their next three without Jenkins.

"A lot of people got down about coach being gone," senior guard Chris Keary said. "We were mentally pumped early inthe season, but then it declined. With Coach Jenkins back tonight wewere pumped again, but just couldn't hit our shots."

Howard made only 22 of 65 shots, 34 percent, and many of those misses were attempts from high-percentage areas. Howard hit only nine of 32 in the first half, but trailed only by six points, 35-29, at halftime.

"We'vegotten out of shape and were feeling it in the second half," senior guard Dave Jones said.

Jones led all scorers with 20 points, and was the only consistent offensive threat for Howard. Yaphet Oliphant scored 12, but 10 of those were in the first half.

Loch Raven, meanwhile, spread its scoring among all five

starters, four of whom reached double figures. Christian Albert and Dane Elterman led the way with 19 each.

Elterman, a sophomore, got a starting chance becausea senior was on a ski trip and Elterman made the most of it, hurtingHoward inside repeatedly with soft-touch short jumpers and bank-shots.

"We just seemed to have more scoring options than Howard and weran our offense well," Loch Raven coach Gary Horn said. "We also played one of our best defensive games."

Loch Raven improved its record to 5-1.

The Raiders built a 29-13 lead in the second quarter, but Howard's half-court trap triggered a 12-point run by Howard, as the Lions trimmed the score to 29-25. Oliphant and Jones each scored six points during that run.

Loch Raven made 12 turnovers in the first half to eight for Howard.

Loch Raven pulled away, 47-35, in the third quarter and appeared in control with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left. But Jenkins called time and asked his team to cut that lead to six points by the end of the quarter.

When played resumed, Howard scored six straight points, but failed to maintain its momentum and trailed, 56-43, at the end of the quarter.

"We're a stronger second-half team and know we can come back, but we don't know to close out a game yet," Jones said.

"Not playing in a holiday tournament definitely hurt us," Jenkins said.

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