The No. 11 Atholton boys basketball team was at home last night, primed to run away from the pack in Howard County.
Hammond said not so fast.
The visiting Golden Bears took a 19-point first-quarter lead and pushed back every time the Raiders came back with a run, grinding out an impressive 67-62 win in Columbia.
Hammond, behind a 21-point performance from senior guard Chris Baker, improved to 15-3 this season and 13-3 in Howard County. Atholton (17-2) remains in first place in the league with a 14-2 mark.
A hot-shooting first quarter that included four three-pointers; sturdy defense and rebounding; 17-for-21 free-throw shooting and poise in the closing minutes led the Bears to the victory.
"We wanted to win and we knew if we kept thinking like that we were going to get the win because they came in there thinking that they were just going to roll over us just like they've done everybody else. We were just telling people that we're a team to compete for the county championship and we showed that here tonight," said Baker, who also had several key assists throughout the game.
Back-to-back threes from senior guard Avery Terry (15 points) highlighted a first quarter in which the Bears shot 50 percent from the field and limited the Raiders to seven points for a 24-7 lead. The Raiders, who had 10 players score, led by 11 from Matt Robinson, pulled within 59-58 on a three-pointer from Alex Dove with 3:40 to play, but the Bears responded.
NO. 3 CALVERT HALL 46, NO. 13 MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 41:: A fourth-quarter three-pointer from senior Shawn Holmes, who scored a team-high 13 points, helped the Cardinals (26-3) pull away from the visiting Gaels (21-10).
NO. 4 WALBROOK 66, SOUTHSIDE 56:: Roscoe Smith 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks to lead the Warriors (16-2) over the host Jaguars (4-9).
NO. 14 ABERDEEN 78, JOPPATOWNE 66:: Devon Saddler scored 23 of his game-high 41 points in the second half as the Eagles (13-4) came back from a three-point halftime deficit to defeat the host Mariners.
NO. 15 PATTERSON 61, POLY 59:: Donte Williams scored the game-winning layup with 18 seconds to play to lead the visiting Clippers (15-3) over the Engineers.
GLENELG 73, MOUNT HEBRON 62, 2 OT:: Jake True's layup as time was expiring sent the game into overtime and the Gladiators (6-13) outscored the host Vikings (6-13) 13-2 in the second extra period to pull out the win.
Shane Kellaher had 20 points to lead Glenelg.
NO. 6 RIVER HILL 59, NO. 14 HOWARD 46:: A game-high 26 points from Shantrel Oliver helped the Hawks (18-0) rally in the second half to beat the host Lions (16-3).