The River Hill boys basketball team cut down its nets last night, celebrating the program's first regional title with a win that typified its season to this point.
Relentless in their zone defense and unselfish on offense, the Hawks stayed a step ahead of visiting Severna Park all game and then counted on senior captain Tommy Brenton's near-perfect work from the foul line to close out a 48-37 win in the Class 3A East final.
Brenton hit 13 of 14 free throws in the final 2:37 to take game-high honors with 19 points. Fellow senior Daniel Hostetler (12 points) had a fine all-around effort as the Hawks (21-5) advanced to meet North regional champ Mervo - a 53-52 winner over City - in Thursday's state semifinal set for 5 p.m. at Comcast Center in College Park.
"Defensively, I think we played huge. We gave up a couple long three-pointers, but overall I think we had good help zone defense and it was a great team effort," Hostetler said. "On offense, we just sort of stuck together, had a lot of assists from everyone and kind of sparked each other into playing the best we could. Teamwork is the main key for us. We know we have to stick together and play as a team."
The Hawks took away the Falcons' inside game, limiting the visitors to 11 points in the first half and 13 field goals for the game. But the Falcons were able to keep close with some solid defense of their own, trailing 26-21 with 6:22 to play after Shane DeWind scored inside off a feed from Keith Pack.
A 6-0 run from the Hawks followed - Brenton getting to the basket for two, followed by a baseline drive from Leron Eaddy and then two free throws from Hostetler - to push the lead to 32-21, and the home team never looked back.
"They just played with more intensity and more passion than us," said Severna Park coach Paul Pellicani, whose Falcons finished the season at 18-8. "We came out awfully flat, and I don't know why coming off a wonderful win at Annapolis. Their zone gave us some fits and as they gained some confidence that kind of snowballed. That's what it kind of came down to - they just played harder than us."
Pack scored 13 points to lead the Falcons, who won 12 of their previous 14 games to reach the regional title game.