Back in early December, the Reservoir girls basketball team was feeling confident.
After back-to-back wins over Hammond and Marriotts Ridge on Dec. 8 and 10 to open the season, the Gators seemed to be handling the graduation of Player of the Year Zelor Massaquoi well.
But then came the eight-game losing streak, which finally ended with Reservoir's 54-49 win at Hammond (1-10) Friday night.
"It's nice to get back on track," Gators coach Kyle Sullivan said. "It was definitely a game of runs, but we were able to make the final push."
With less than 90 seconds to play, Reservoir sophomore Haley Tiller intercepted a pass at the top of the key, dribbled the length of the court, stopped and hit the go-ahead pull-up jumper, breaking a 49-49 tie.
"We were putting a lot of pressure on their ball handlers, trying to force turnovers, and on that play I had been getting beat a little by their point guard (junior Shawnice King)," said Tiller, who finished with 13 points and six steals. "I had good help and I felt confident enough to go for the steal, and we got it and I just pushed it ahead."
Hammond, led by King who scored 16 points in the loss, trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, before going on a 12-0 run before half time to go into the intermission with a 26-23 lead.
"We've got to focus on execution. Right now we've got the fight. I can live with that fight any night," Hammond coach Raymona Reid said. "Everybody's got to bring it. Everybody's got their role and we've got to execute within our roles."
Reservoir stormed into the second half with a 17-4 run in the first four minutes of the third quarter to build a 40-30 lead, but the game was tight all through the fourth.
"For the first four minutes of the third quarter, 17 points," Sullivan said. "The next four minutes of the third quarter, one point. We score in spurts. A lot of that has to do with that we are a little bit undisciplined defensively. We get into foul trouble, our starters are sitting, and that's when our lull starts happening toward the middle of the third quarter."
Kayla Wilson (team-high 14 points) staked the Gators to a 14-7 lead with her three-pointer with 13 seconds left in the first quarter, and Mary Dudzinski scored six of her eight points during a 20-second span in the peak of Reservoir's third quarter rally, and pulled down eight rebounds.
The Golden Bears battled back, eventually taking a 42-41 lead early in the fourth on a basket by King, who had five assists in the second half.
Senior Jameelah Wallace (7 points) hit a pair of shots at 4:19 and 3:45 to put Hammond ahead, 49-47, but two free throws by Miller followed by Tiller's momentum changing play sealed the win. On the next trip down the court, Tiller found Dudzinski open under the basket for an easy insurance layup.
"Mary and I always try to work together out there. She sets me so many picks, she rolls. It was all momentum. We were playing basketball. We were taking our time," Tiller said. "I saw it and we made it."
King fouled out with about 40 seconds left, nullifying the Golden Bears best scoring threat, and Tiller hit a free throw with 30 seconds left for the last point of the game.
"I'm happy for them to get (the losing streak) off their back," Sullivan said. "Now we can breath a little bit and get back to focusing on playing how we're supposed to play."
Lauryn Terry scored eight points, pulled down 15 rebounds and blocked five shots with two assists and two steals for the Golden Bears. Shacorya Miller scored 10 points with 10 rebounds and two steals.
Re (3-8): Wilson 14, Tiller 13, Dudzinski 8, A. Bartley 7, C. Bartley 7, DeLong 3, Miller 2.
Ha (1-10): King 16, Miller 10, Terry 8, Witt 8, Wallace 7.
Half: Ha 26-23
Around the league
Atholton 64, Long Reach 31
County scoring leader Chelsea Mitchell continued her excellent season, scoring 25 points to lead the Raiders past the Lightning, who were led by freshman phenom Kiana Williams, with 21 points of her own.
A: Mitchell 25, Mayhew 11, Burmester 10, Caldwell 6, Quinn 6, Hart 2, Owens 2, Simons 2.
LR: K. Williams 21, Green 6, Malone 3, D. Williams 1.
Half: A 30-17
Centennial 35, Glenelg 27
The Eagles overcame a five-point halftime deficit, winning the second half 21-8 behind Anna Mitchell's game-high 14 points.
C: Mitchell 14, Simmons 8, Eads 6, Driscoll 3, Dunagan 2, Gray 2.
G: Wolfrey 10, Foster 6, Johnson 4, Butera 2, Harmon 2, Henggeler 2, Mattis 1.
Half: G 19-14
Howard 40, Marriotts Ridge 29
Ho: Gilmore 14, Scott 10, Batterton 8, Lewis 5, Talley 3.
MR: S. Blalock 6, Held 5, C. Blalock 4, Miller 4, Hockensmith 2, Nelson 2, Ohnmacht 2, Stepke 2, Sullivan 2.
Half: Ho 29-9
Mt. Hebron 56, Oakland Mills 21
MH: Devine 11, Crump 9, Konig 9, Green 6, Alli 5, Doherty 5, Demek 3, LeConte 2, Kumar 2, Purnell 2, Williams 2.
OM: Jones-Carter 9, Diggs 4, Weiss 4, Mallory 2, Jackson 2.
Half: MH 30-12
River Hill 46, Wilde Lake 35
RH: Caddigan 12, Hopkins 8, Seybold 8, Buchiane 7, Poindexter 7, Hovet 2, Ojeda 2.
WL: Robinson 11, Bialek 7, Drury 7, Gill 5, Sciabarra 4, Harris 1.
Half: RH 21-13
League standings, as of Jan. 23
Mt. Hebron, 10-1
Oakland Mills, 6-5
River Hill, 5-6
Long Reach, 4-7
Marriotts Ridge, 1-10
Wilde Lake, 1-10
Glenelg Country School, 5-9
Monday, Jan. 26 schedule
River Hill at Glenelg
Chapelgate at Key