Defending Howard County champion Long Reach, which stumbled Wednesday in a one-point overtime loss to Wilde Lake, reasserted itself last night at Atholton with a 56-50 victory over the Raiders.
Long Reach did it with defense, some balanced scoring, good free-throw shooting and an excellent all-around game by Darryl Webb.
The Lightning improved to 2-1 overall and in the league. Atholton fell to 1-2.
"It was just a total team effort defensively," said coach Al Moraz Jr. "We knew if we kept the game in the 50s and shut down their three-point scorers we'd have a chance. Unlike our loss to Wilde Lake, this time, we hit our free throws down the stretch."
Webb scored 18 points, had 12 rebounds, blocked five shots, had two steals and two assists. He shot 7-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-6 at the foul line.
"This was supposed to be the team we had to beat to win the championship, so this win gives us a lot of confidence," said Webb, who averaged six points last season but is averaging 23 points after three games this season.
Long Reach's Brian Taylor scored 12 points. Daevon Wall scored 11 points and played man-to-man defense against Atholton's top offensive threat, Craig Sauers, who scored 10.
Only 24 turnovers kept Long Reach - trying to replace All-Metro point guard Mike Smelkinson - from a more convincing victory.
Long Reach's defense held Atholton to just three three-point baskets.
"Our biggest concern with Atholton was their three-point shooting," said Webb, who scored 13 of his points in the second half.