Hammond coach Joe Russo said it has happened the last six years. His team plays a stretch of games at this time of year when it doesn't hustle and plays uninspired.
"Terrible," said Russo of his team's recent play. "I'm a little worried about them. I can't put my finger on it. But if we win, I can't complain."
The 11th-ranked Golden Bears did win yesterday, defeating visiting Glenelg, 52-32, and stopping the Gladiators' six-game winning streak.
In Hammond's four games prior to yesterday, it beat Oakland Mills by four; needed overtime and a 36-point effort from Crystal Todd to stop Howard; lost to Wilde Lake by four, and won by eight over Mount Hebron, a team it beat by 31 earlier this season. Only 10th-ranked Wilde Lake has a winning Howard County record.
"Don't ask me," Russo said about his team's letdown. "It's frustrating. I just coach here."
Hammond (16-3 overall, 13-2 league) looked better yesterday. The Golden Bears outscored Glenelg 14-4 over the final 5: 04 of the first quarter for a 16-8 lead and never looked back.
The Gladiators (11-8, 9-6) managed only a Camey Brian free throw in the second quarter and trailed, 22-9, at halftime.
"That's the best defensive game we've had since we played Centennial [a 50-43 Hammond win Jan. 13]," said Russo. "We also showed a little more intensity."
Rene Hines, who led Hammond with a game-high 17 points, said the season has been like a roller-coaster ride. "Now we're going uphill," Hines said.
"I think we played excellent [against Glenelg]," Hines added. "Everybody had good intensity."
Hammond will need that intensity tomorrow when it travels to No. 9 Centennial, which got 19 points from Meredith Price and defeated Oakland Mills, 50-33.
"We'll have to play with a lot more desire [against Centennial]," Russo said.
Wilde Lake, Centennial and Hammond are tied for first in the county with 13-2 records.
Glenelg, which plays host to Wilde Lake tomorrow and Centennial Tuesday, had played well in winning six straight. But yesterday the Gladiators shot poorly, and their leading scorer, Camey Brian, had only five points before fouling out with 4: 44 left. Kris Brust led Glenelg with 15 points.
"I was surprised," said Glenelg coach Ciaran Lesikar. "I thought we were going to come out a lot more aggressively. We came out dead. We didn't run our plays correctly from the very beginning."
Howard 81, River Hill 65: Chanelle Carter scored a career-high 37 points to lead host Howard (7-11, 6-8) over River Hill (6-13, 3-12).
Carter, a 5-10 senior forward, made 12 field goals and converted 13 of 14 free throws. Her previous high was 32 points, which she accomplished twice this season -- against River Hill and Long Reach.
Pub Date: 2/12/97