With four 6-footers on the floor, last night's girls basketball game between No. 6 River Hill and No. 11 Howard figured to be a battle on the inside, but the Hawks' guards stole the show.
Shantrel Oliver and Vanessa Collier combined for 38 points to lead host River Hill to a 67-41 victory in a Howard County league game. The Hawks (6-0 overall, 5-0 league) are the only unbeaten team remaining in the county.
Oliver and Collier said there were two main keys to the victory - defense and taking it to the Lions' 6-footers: Nyree Williams and Brandi Wingate. Both got into foul trouble and finished with a combined 16 points and 16 rebounds.
"The guards had to go down low and get the rebounds, help out as much as we could," said Oliver, a transfer from Wilde Lake. "We kept them [Williams and Wingate] off the boards, and we got them in foul trouble."
The Hawks started running away with this one early, taking an 18-8 lead in the first quarter while the Lions (4-1, 3-1) went 4-for-11 from the free-throw line.
In the fourth quarter, the Hawks ran their lead to 46-25 on two free throws by Collier with 2:33 left after their defense held the Lions scoreless for the first 2:20 of the half. It didn't help that Wingate picked up her fourth foul midway through the quarter.
"We had to play good defense," Collier said. "We have this motto of 'Ball-hawking, floor-slapping, in-your-face defense,' and we have to live by it. Then, we knew we had to get the guard play going because they have two talented big girls and we have two [Alicia Seelaus and Ryan Dannelly] as well, so we just had to balance them out with the guards."