Quality teams and special players tend to find a winning path in the closing minutes of a tight game.
The River Hill girls basketball team, behind senior All-Metro guard Keisha Eaddy and a strong supporting cast, showed just that with a 46-43 win over rival Mount Hebron in a Howard County game last night.
Bogged down by a determined defensive front by the visiting Vikings for much of the game, Eaddy (game-high 15 points) hit a runner in the lane with 47 seconds left that gave the No. 8 Hawks the lead for good at 44-43. After Cari Haas hit two free throws with 10 seconds left, the No. 12 Vikings had a chance to tie at the buzzer, but Jill Rekart's three-point attempt from the left corner rimmed out.
River Hill's win was significant twofold. Not only did the Hawks complete a second straight perfect regular season - now 22-0 and 18-0 in the county - but they also kept the Vikings from the inaugural county championship game next week. River Hill will host Atholton - a 56-38 winner over Glenelg last night - at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Last night, the Hawks overcame a sluggish offensive effort, largely due to an aggressive Mount Hebron defense led by junior guard Jackie Doherty, and a 40-35 deficit with just more than four minutes to play to remain perfect for the season.
With the Vikings trying to stop Eaddy, River Hill coach Teresa Waters was pleased to see others step up. Kelsey Erdman scored 12 points, including two jumpers early in the fourth quarter and a key follow on a missed free throw in the final minutes. Haas added 10 points, including the key final free throws.
"Mount Hebron threw a defense out there that caused us to divert a little bit with the usage of Keisha. And we as a team realize that you can't always expect her to be the one to deliver. It takes the whole team, and we continue to persevere," said Waters.
The Hawks came out fast on Senior Night, jumping out to a 9-0 lead that they built into a 23-9 advantage with 4:15 to play in the first half.
But the Vikings, who got 14 points from Rekart and 11 inside from Jasmine Jarrett, weren't rattled, using the final 2:41 of the half to go on a 12-0 run - capped by a three-pointer from Rekart with two seconds left - to get even at 25 by halftime.
Deanna Dydynski took over offensively for the Vikings in the closing minutes of the third quarter and into the fourth, scoring eight of her nine points down the stretch, to help build the visitors a 40-35 lead early in the fourth quarter.