UPPER MARLBORO - The ability to handle full-court pressure successfully is one of several reasons why the sixth-ranked Mount Hebron girls basketball team won the Howard County league title. But nothing the Vikings saw in Howard County could have prepared them for what they encountered last night.
Facing a relentless defense at every corner of the court, Mount Hebron turned the ball over 34 times and was blown out by top-seeded Douglass-PG, 60-35, in a 3A, East regional semifinal.
Douglass (23-1), which is ranked No. 1 in The Washington Post, won its 18th straight and will next play at Gwynn Park tomorrow night at 7 for the East regional title. The Yellow Jackets defeated Severna Park, 67-43, in last night's other East regional semifinal.
Mount Hebron (19-5) had trouble with the Eagles' full-court pressure defense from the start, turning the ball over on its opening five possessions. In all, the Vikings attempted just 39 shots, 22 fewer than Douglass.
"They were so quick," said Mount Hebron junior forward Kristen Waagbo, who was the only Vikings player in double figures with a team-high 14 points. "A pass that looked like it was there, they would just jump up and intercept it. And they just were so good at reading where the ball was going that either a bounce pass or a chest pass wouldn't make it there."
Douglass senior guard Charita Roberts scored a game-high 27 points on 11-for-24 shooting, and had nine rebounds and five steals. Senior guard T'Neisha Turner added 18 points and three assists, and senior center Tierra Jackson had nine points, five steals and three blocked shots. As a team, the Eagles registered 15 steals.
"We've been able to handle presses all year, and in fact we've sort of thrived on beating full-court pressure," Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson said. "You can see why they're No. 1 in the Post. We've faced nobody, nor have I seen anybody, that has that kind of quickness or leaping ability."
Mount Hebron hung tough early, and even led 12-11 at the end of the first quarter. Douglass, however, outscored the Vikings 16-6 to start the second quarter on the way to a 27-18 halftime lead.
After the teams traded baskets to start the third quarter, Douglass reeled off 16 straight points to move ahead, 45-20, as Mount Hebron turned the ball over 11 times in eight minutes. The Vikings came no closer than 18 the rest of the way.
"I think our intensity was a little down," said Mount Hebron senior guard Crystal Griner. "We had them at one point, but then we kind of lost it. We just came out flat. They're a very good team. The better team won tonight."