It seemed only fitting that on the night that Long Reach senior Kiana Williams scored her 1,000th career point, she enjoyed her best all-around game of the season as well.
The Lightning point guard scored a career-high 31 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds, helping Long Reach (6-0, 7-0) shake off a slow start and pull away for a 74-55 victory over visiting Mt. Hebron on Tuesday.
After coming into the contest as the team’s fourth leading scorer, averaging just over 10 points a game, Williams took a turn in the spotlight.
“It meant a lot to me, scoring a 1,000 points because I’ve been short lately on a couple games. I haven’t been scoring that much,” said Williams, whose season high prior to Tuesday was 18 points. “But today, to pick it up, I showed that I haven’t really fell off, but [instead] I am starting to rise back up like I was last year.”
Mt. Hebron (1-5, 5-6) had roared out of the gates to a 14-6 lead late in the first quarter, getting inspired play from Tori Valentine (25 points). But that’s when Williams began to assert herself, scoring seven unanswered points of her own between the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second to change the momentum of the game.
By halftime, Williams had scored 16 points and the Lightning had surged to a 37-28 advantage.
“[Kiana] has consciously sacrificed her scoring this year, realizing that we have a lot of players around her that can catch and finish. For her, it’s been a little more score as necessary … and you know, tonight we did need her to give us a spark early on,” Long Reach coach Kelli Cofield said. “And the nice thing is, we all know she is more than capable of having a game like this on any given night. I was happy for her, though, to be able to get her career high on a night that was already such a special one with her reaching the 1,000-point milestone.”
Mt. Hebron coach Tony Bell said he was thrilled with his own team’s early execution of the game plan, helping take Long Reach out of what it wanted to do. But ultimately, limiting the Lightning ability to score in transition proved problematic.
“We were excited about this game because we had opened the season up with them and they beat us by 41 points, so this was our chance to measure ourselves and see how far we’ve come,” Bell said. “And I thought we showed something tonight that first quarter, being able to disrupt their style a little bit. But, that’s a really good team, so once you throw that one turnover that leads to a fast break and then come down and turn it over again … you suddenly look up and they’ve scored eight or 10 points just like that.
“The girls today referred to it today as ‘stopping the bleeding,’ basically stop the runs. For the most part, we did pretty well with that, but it wasn’t quite enough.”
Long Reach didn’t let up after halftime, pushing its lead up over 20 points just over a minute into the fourth quarter. Arianna Briggs-Hall (16 points, 10 rebounds), Lyric Swann (14 points) and Jaelyn Swann (5 points) all made big plays during the push that put the game out of reach.
Aside from Valentine, Julia Rodriguez (15 points) also had a standout day with five made 3-pointers for Mt. Hebron.
The win keeps Long Reach as one of just two undefeated girls basketball squads left in Howard County. The other unbeaten team in league play is Oakland Mills (5-0, 8-2), which has a key match-up on tap Wednesday against Howard (4-1, 9-1).
Long Reach will be back in action on Wednesday at River Hill, while Mt. Hebron will travel to Wilde Lake.
Long Reach 74, Mt. Hebron 55
LR (6-0, 7-0): Williams 31, Briggs-Hall 16, L. Swann 14, J. Swann 5, Thompson 4, Proctor 4.
MH (1-5, 5-6): Valentine 25, Rodriguez 15, Williams 6, Chase 3, Madden 3, Oliver 3.
Half: 37-28 LR.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports