As much as it stung at the time, senior Taylor Addison says she and her Howard teammates have done their best to use their lone loss of the season — a 70-51 setback at the hands of Long Reach at the beginning of January —as an opportunity for growth.
On the road Tuesday against the same Lightning squad, Addison and the Lions got the opportunity to showcase just how far they’ve come and didn’t waste it.
Addison scored 23 points, leading a group of four Howard players in double figures scoring, and the Lions answered an early Long Reach surge with one of their own down the stretch en route to a 69-57 victory that creates a tie for first in the Howard County standings.
“I think the first game did help us, we just knew that we didn’t give as much energy as we could have,” said Addison, who scored 18 of her points in the second half Tuesday. “Long Reach, yes they are a great team, but we also are a great team and we want to come out here and win the county championship. … We were like, we are going to come out here and give 100 percent effort every single possession, which we definitely 100 percent did.”
Howard (14-1, 20-1) and Long Reach (13-1, 14-2) have now split during the regular season each of the last two years, with each squad winning on the opposing team’s home court.
The Lions have one county game left this winter — against Centennial on Thursday — and the Lightning have two — against Atholton Thursday and Marriotts Ridge on Saturday. Should both teams win out, they would share the county championship.
For Long Reach, which was led by Lyric Swann (19 points), Arianna Briggs-Hall (11) Kiana Williams (11) against Howard, a county title would be the first in program history. And that quest for hardware is something coach Kelli Cofield reminded her group about in the locker room after the loss.
“Every time you step on the floor, you want to win, so we aren’t happy with a loss. But we also can’t lose sight of the fact that this season has been and continues to be historic,”Cofield said. “To still be in a position to win a county championship is awesome and we just talked about how we aren’t going to let a loss take away the great things that we’ve done and the great things we will continue to do. I still like the position that we are in.”
For Howard, which also got 10 points apiece from Courtney Furr, Deonna Jones and Marissa Sanchez-Henry this time against the Lightning, a county championship would be the program’s third straight. Just as importantly, according to Howard coach Scott Robinson, finishing with a win would lock up the top seed in Section I of the 4A North region for the upcoming playoffs.
“The seniors have talked and we want that No. 1 seed, we know how much that means in our region and we also know we control our own destiny at this point. So you take that, and then playing against a great team like Long Reach that had already beaten us head-to-head and there was a lot at stake tonight,” Robinson said. “So I was extremely proud of the effort. There’s a great deal of respect on both sides and it’s definitely a rivalry with Long Reach that we were fortunate to come out on top of tonight.”
Howard came out of the gates on fire, opening up a 10-2 lead a little more than three minutes in. But Long Reach, much like it did in the first meeting, regrouped to put together its own run.
By the end of the first quarter, Lyric Swann had hit three 3-pointers and the Lightning had come all the way back to grab an 18-14 advantage.
The lead ended up changing hands five more times in the second quarter before an acrobatic layup by Camille Malagar (7 points) gave Howard a 29-27 lead at the break.
It was the third quarter, however, that ultimately ended up deciding the game’s outcome.
Madison Burris scored eight unanswered points of her own to open the third quarter as part of what ended up being a 19-7 run that created the first double-digit lead of the night for either squad.
From that point on, Long Reach made its share of baskets — including three straight during a mini 7-0 push early in the fourth quarter —but never managed to get any closer than eight points.
During the closing quarter, Howard’s ball movement and ability to get everyone involved was on full display. During the final eight minutes, five different players scored and the team hit a combined eight of 10 free throws.
“Passing the ball around and making sure every single person touched the ball was really the key to pulling away,” Addison said.
Howard 69, Long Reach 57
Ho (14-1, 20-1): Addison 23, Jones 10, Furr 10, Sanchez-Henry 10, Burris 9, Malagar 7.
LR (13-1, 14-2): L. Swann 19, Briggs-Hall 11, Williams 11, J. Swann 9, Streeter 7.
Half: 29-27 Ho.
Reservoir 49, Centennial 27
The Gators spread the offense around in a victory over the Eagles where the team built a 26-9 lead by halftime.
Emily Dorn (11 points, 19 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 assists and 2 steals) led the charge, but Kate Abunassar (10 points), Tiffany Hooker (9 points, 3, steals and 2 assists) and Nia Powell (7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists) all chipped in with strong all-around games as well.
Brook Anderson led the way with 11 points for Centennial, which was without three injured starters — Rasa Welsh, Ashley Molz and Grace Rockefeller.
Re (10-5, 13-8): Dorn 11, Abunassar 10, Hooker 9, Powell 7, Bailey 7, Verna 4, Moultrie 1.
C (7-8, 11-10): Anderson 11, Dossett 4, Smith 4, Hamshey 3, Fowler 2, Reese 2, Lambert 1.
Half: 26- 9 Re.
Glenelg 69, Wilde Lake 35
On senior night, the Gladiators won their third straight game. Seniors Jess Foster (17 points), Kellie Johnson (12 points) and Kendall Howze (8 points, 3 rebounds, block and steal) all played key roles.
Kalani Corkeron scored a game-high 22 points for Wilde Lake in the loss.
G (9-6, 15-6): Foster 17, Johnson 12, Howze 8, Arterburn 8, LePage 8, LaPort 4, Prezelski 3, Salafia 3, Hirsch 2, Coburn 2, Cook 2.
WL (0-16, 1-19): Corkeron 22, Perry 8, Richards 3, Cariati 2.
Half: 38-16 G.
Atholton 56, Mt. Hebron 45
Kayla Beckwith scored a team-high 19 points — all coming in the second half — and Zhuri Cannon chipped in with 12, as the Raiders defeated the Vikings to secure coach Julia Reynold her 100th career victory.
Eve Chase (16 points) and Tori Valentine (15) were the leaders for Mt. Hebron in the loss.
A (6-9, 8-12): Beckwith 19, Cannon 12, Sowah 9, Hargrett 6, Bathras 6, Simons 4.
MH (5-10, 9-12): Chase 16, Valentine 15, Rodriguez 6, Oliver 4, Rogers 4.
Half: 21-14 A.
Oakland Mills 54, River Hill 42
Jazmine Washington (17 points, 7 assists), Marley Grenway (12 points) and Aislynn Riggs (11 points, 13 rebounds and 8 blocks) all had big games for a Scorpions’ team that won its fourth straight game.
OM (10-5, 14-7): Washington 17, Grenway 12, Riggs 11, Eldridge 8, McDuffie 4, M. Brown 2.
RH (6-9, 12-9): N/A.
Half: 21-16 OM.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports