Homecoming was about four months ago, but that didn't stop Marche' Westray from celebrating.
Westray scored a season-high 16 points as the River Hill junior guard made a triumphant return to a familiar site to lead the No. 2 Hawks to a 71-39 victory over host Long Reach in Columbia last night.
Senior guard Laura Hostetler added a game-high 25 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three assists to help River Hill improve to 15-2 overall and 13-0 in Howard County.
Talk afterward centered on Westray, who had played for the Lightning last season before transferring to River Hill.
Westray said she was inspired by an accusation of recruiting lodged against River Hill - an allegation that proved unfounded.
"It's kind of like revenge," said Westray, who started in place of junior Ashley Thomas (shoulder injury) and added five steals, three rebounds and three assists. "After everything that went on, I guess that's what motivated me to score and play an aggressive game."
Added Hawks coach Teresa Waters: "This is her old school. Needless to say, when you come back to your old school, you want to step up, and she did."
Westray, who displayed a soft shooting touch to go with her quick drives to the basket, and Hostetler did all the damage for River Hill, which built a 20-8 lead after the first quarter.
Hostetler scored 11 points, including three three-pointers, and Westray chipped in seven points in the period.
The Hawks weren't nearly as productive in the second frame, posting just 10 points. But Long Reach was just as ineffective in matching its first-quarter output and trailing 30-16 at halftime.
The Lightning did score 15 points in the third quarter, but River Hill posted 19. And the Hawks clinched the win with a 22-8 fourth period.
While River Hill converted 42.6 percent (29-for-68) of its field-goal attempts, the Lightning struggled to 24.6 percent (15-for-61) from the field.
A major factor was the play of 6-foot-4 sophomore center Brittany Gordon, who had a game-high 12 rebounds, blocked six shots and changed a few more.
"My goal is to get a double double every game," said Gordon, who contributed nine points. "Everything just clicked tonight."
Junior center Whitney Ward paced Long Reach (9-6, 7-5) with a team-high 12 points and six rebounds, and freshman guard Carlie Nethken added nine points and six rebounds.
But junior guard Timisha Gomez, who had averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, finished with just six points and four rebounds.
"Evidently, it must have been River Hill's defensive pressure and - without question - them being more aggressive than us," Long Reach coach Kevin Broadus said. "They attacked us on defense, they attacked us on offense. They were just more aggressive."