The Mount Hebron girls basketball team is 13-0 this season, and there's no question what the starting point is to the team's success - stifling team defense.
The No. 10 Vikings were at their harassing best on their home court last night against No. 5 and defending Class 2A state champ Atholton, limiting the Raiders to 10 points in the first half on their way to a surprisingly comfortable 48-28 win in Howard County play.
Senior forward Deanna Dydynski and junior guard Brittany Bowen led the offense with 14 points each, but the defensive numbers stood out the most. The Vikings limited the Raiders (9-3) to 5-for-27 shooting from the field and forced 14 turnovers in the first half to take control for a 23-10 halftime lead.
"Atholton is a great offensive [team], and I thought our girls played with really good intensity and played great team defense," Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson said. "[The Raiders] have so many weapons, we just knew we had to play great team defense, because you can't focus on any one kid."
Trailing by 13 going into the second half, the Raiders tried to make a run, getting two early three-pointers from Brittany Coughlan and a driving lay-up from Elie Snyder to close within 27-18 with 5:39 left in the third quarter. But the Vikings also showed they could respond at the offensive end.
Bowen scored four straight points to push the lead back up to 31-18, and Dydynski closed out the third quarter with a three-pointer and a jumper to give the Vikings a 40-24 lead.
Atholton coach Maureen Shacreaw expected the going to be tough early but said she was impressed with the Vikings' answers in the third quarter when the Raiders tried to get back in the game.