Missing Caitlin Bair, its best all-around player, was bad enough for River Hill in its season opener at Atholton last night. But when guard Lauren Martin, the county's top three-point shooter, was sidelined with an injury for four minutes of the second quarter, the Hawks were in big trouble.
And Atholton took full advantage.
The Raiders erased a five-point deficit by scoring 17 straight. The first-year Hawks never recovered, and Atholton handed its first-year coach, Paul Seadler, a 61-45 victory.
"We played surprisingly well," said Atholton's Julie Kapcala, who scored a team-high 14 points, eight in the decisive second period. "I didn't think we'd be that good. We still have some weak spots that we need to work on, but we should have a good season if we play like this."
Said Atholton point guard Sylvia Lin, who played well and scored 10 points: "We found a good cohesiveness that I didn't think we would have until later in the season. We were focused and knew what we wanted to do."
FTC Bair, a junior who played at Atholton her first two years, is attending a five-day National Congressional Youth Leadership Conference in Washington.
"Caitlin is very important to us," said Martin, a sophomore who played at Glenelg last year. "She's an all-around team player [who]brings a lot of support to the team."
With Bair gone, the scoring responsibility fell directly on Martin. She handled it well, hitting four three-point baskets -- one turned into a four-point play -- and displaying a lot more desire and confidence to drive the lane. The result was a solid 29-point effort.
"Lauren Martin is a heckuva of player," said Seadler, an assistant coach last year at Atholton. "I don't know who is going to stop her."
Martin was injured 30 seconds into the second quarter with River Hill leading, 16-11. Martin was whistled for a foul and got hit in her eye and nose by one of Kapcala's hands as the Atholton forward drove the lane. When Martin returned with 3: 23 left, Kapcala had scored eight of her points, and Atholton led, 28-16.
Martin scored the last five points of the first half, the final three on her third three-pointer, to cut Atholton's lead to 33-22. Baskets by Martin and Natalie Cox, who was River Hill's second leading scorer with eight, cut the Hawks' deficit to seven. But a nine-point Atholton run made it 42-26 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
Atholton, which took full advantage of 24 River Hill turnovers and its superior height, built its largest lead, 61-38, with just under two minutes remaining.
"We improved from the beginning of the game to the end, and that's all you can ask for," said Seadler, who got eight points from Meagan Funches.
Pub Date: 12/06/96