River Hill's girls basketball team took a 20-point lead into the second half and held off a couple of Howard rallies to win its seventh Howard County championship in 10 years, 54-40, last night.
The No. 5 Hawks (23-0) used their press to stop a five-point run that brought the No. 14 Lions within 48-39 on Kendall Neff's two free throws with 3:05 left. Ryann Dannelly converted a follow shot after a Lions turnover to spark six-point Hawks run that sealed the victory.
"Our press and our transition is our bread and butter," said Hawks senior Alicia Seelaus, who finished with 11 points. "As long as we push the ball, play tough defense we can control the game."
Dannelly and Alex Vega scored 10 each for the host Hawks, who scored their third win this season over the Lions (19-4) and finished undefeated through the county finals for the fourth time in school history.
Atholton 62, Hammond 49:: Atholton coach Jim Albert preaches defense first to his players. Last night, his Raiders made him proud.
Atholton (20-3) forced 26 turnovers and added 16 steals to defeat Hammond and win the Howard County title.
The Raiders were led by senior Shane Brown's 19 points, while No. 15 Hammond (19-4) was led by Leo Rogers and Avery Terry with 14 points apiece.
"Coach Albert tells us that defense wins championships," Brown said. "We knew if we went out and did our jobs on the defensive end that the rest would take care of itself.
The teams split their two regular-season games, with each winning in the other's gym.