River Hill falls short again


Different year, same result.

For the fifth consecutive season, the River Hill girls basketball team's quest to win its first regional championship was halted by a Prince George's County team.

Visiting Gwynn Park, which beat the Hawks in a Class 3A East quarterfinal last year, played spoiler again last night and humbled the No. 5 Hawks, 58-44, in a Class 3A East region final in Clarksville.

The Yellow Jackets - ranked No. 2 by The Washington Post - advanced to a state semifinal on Thursday at 7 p.m. at UMBC to defend the championship they collected last season.

Gwynn Park (23-1) will meet Urbana, which defeated Paint Branch for the West region crown, in a rematch of last year's state semifinal.

Mistakes and missed opportunities hindered River Hill (21-4), which lost to the Yellow Jackets, 64-59, on Dec. 26 at the IAABO Tournament. The Howard County champions committed 25 turnovers compared with Gwynn Park's 18, converted six fewer field goals, and lost the rebounding battle, 43-34, against an opponent that didn't field a player taller than 5 feet 11.

"We just didn't show up to play tonight," said senior forward Megan Buescher, who led the Hawks with 10 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks. "I don't know what team was out there tonight, but that wasn't River Hill."

The Hawks probably wish they could replay the first quarter when they shot just 1-for-15 from the field and trailed 13-3 at the end of the period.

River Hill got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.

The Hawks couldn't contain Gwynn Park's junior duo of forward Kemena Brooks (22 points, six rebounds and three steals) and guard Kristen Boone (15 points and four steals).

"Howard County has good teams that are real aggressive," Brooks said. "But River Hill is always talking trash in the paper. All we're saying is, 'If you're going to talk trash, back it up.' "

Yellow Jackets coach Marvin Vann said the key was being faster than River Hill.

"We certainly didn't have the height advantage," he said. "But we're quick, and you can't coach speed."

Besides the back-to-back regional losses to Gwynn Park, River Hill lost to Bladensburg in the region final in 2001, DuVal in the finals in 2000 and Central in a quarterfinal in 1999.

"It's mentally and emotionally draining," coach Teresa Waters said of the string of futility. "I don't have any words to describe it."

GP-Huson 5, Boone 15, Brooks 22, Watson 5, Neely 5, Crutchfield 2, Barber 4. Totals 22 10-21 58. RH-Westray 5, Eaddy 2, Moore 2, Hostetler 8, Buescher 10, Gordon 9, Thomas 5, Kupec 3. Totals 16 10-25 44. Half: GP, 30-15.

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