With its pressure defense cranked on high and its shots falling, the No. 5 River Hill girls basketball team couldn't have asked for a better start to the postseason than last night's performance against Annapolis.
Starting strong to finish off the visiting Panthers early, the Hawks got a game-high 25 points from senior guard Laura Hostetler and something from everyone else for a 75-46 win in a Class 3A East region quarterfinal.
The Hawks (20-3) will stay at home to meet Severna Park in tomorrow's semifinals.
Taller at every position at the tip, River Hill also had too much quickness and athleticism for the Panthers. An 11-0 run, with Hostetler scoring seven, opened a 17-6 lead late in the first quarter, and the Hawks rolled from there.
Coming off a 38-35 win over Mount Hebron to clinch their third Howard County crown in four years, the Hawks were happy to see more points on the board to accompany their always-tough defense.
Senior forward Megan Buescher added 14 points, freshman guard LeKeisha Eaddy had 10 and eight of the 10 Hawks players scored.
"We just want to focus on our defense, play as a team and take one game at a time," Hostetler said. "Our defense gets our offense going. It's a good win because our shots hadn't been falling lately and they were tonight."
It was not a good night for the Panthers, starting before the tip when 6-foot senior center Samantha Sydney left Annapolis without her uniform. All she could do was watch the Hawks grab one offensive rebound after another at the end of the bench.
His team was decidedly overmatched, but Annapolis coach John Brady was still pleased with it's effort. Senior guard Whitney Crankfield led the visitors with 20 points and fellow senior C'vette Henson added 10.
The Panthers, who got as high as No. 16 in The Sun's poll last month, finished the season 14-8.
"The odds were stacked against us, but we played hard," Brady said. "They're a good team, they play hard, and we just got off to a bad start on offense. The effort was there, and that's all I care about."
River Hill coach Teresa Waters was equally pleased with her team's total effort, as the second group showed as much defensive intensity as the starters.
"It was a total team effort - all 10 players factored in," Waters said. "I thought the defense even picked up some with our second group and we got back in flow offensively."