With two of her fellow senior starters fouled out in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s road match-up against Mt. Hebron, Glenelg Country’s Brianna Chun knew the weight was on her shoulders to step up and take over.
And, by scoring 10 of her team-high 18 points over the final four minutes, that’s exactly what Chun did.
Erasing a five-point fourth-quarter deficit, Glenelg Country (2-2) grabbed the lead on a three by Chun with 3:12 left in regulation and never trailed again on the way to a 53-50 victory over the host Vikings.
“It was really important for me to take some leadership and really help out the team,” said Chun, who took over floor general duties after Taylor Denny (4 points) fouled out in the third quarter and Taylor Gillis (15 points) followed suit in the fourth. “But everyone else who played, they really helped me out too. It was a whole team effort.”
Junior Tori Valentine (game-high 23 points) and freshman Erin Dixon (16 points, 10 rebounds) led the way in the loss for Mt. Hebron (0-1), which was playing its first regular season game this winter. While disappointed in the result, Vikings’ first-year coach Tierney Ahearn said the back-and-forth contest should serve as a great learning experience moving forward.
“I feel like we just played a full regular season in one game, in the sense that we got to experience pretty much everything — both the good and bad,” Ahearn said. “The heart was there, they never gave up and they put themselves in position where they could win in the last 15 seconds.
“Turnovers ended up killing us, just a few too many mental lapses. But hopefully those things get better with experience.”
Last year when Glenelg Country and Mt. Hebron squared off early in the season, it was the Vikings that prevailed in a close contest by a score of 40-31. This time, however, it was the Dragons that made the plays in crunch time and coach Will Harper said that maturity down the stretch was certainly evident.
Glenelg Country ended up making eight foul shots in the final 70 seconds — four apiece by Chun and sophomore Ashlyn Bender (7 points) to help seal the win.
“Today definitely started with senior leadership, especially Brianna, but just as importantly our sophomores stepped up and made some big plays,” Harper said. “They’re not freshmen anymore, they’ve been in tight games likes this, and it showed today with their composure.”
In addition to Bender, sophomore forward Caroline Haynes also chipped in with seven points.
Glenelg Country was in control early, racing out to an 8-1 lead in the first three minutes. That lead was up to 10 points, 20-10, by the early stages of the second quarter.
But Mt. Hebron battled back by closing the first half on a 15-4 run to take the team’s first lead of the game, 25-24, into intermission. Valentine scored 14 of her points in those first two quarters and Dixon came off the bench to provide a spark to the comeback with six second-quarter points of her own.
“She’s an unassuming, quiet and humble kid that has a lot of talent. We’re really looking forward to developing her,” Ahearn said. “That’s basically her second time playing high school ball because we only had one scrimmage and she didn’t seem phased at all.”
The lead changed hands a couple times in the third quarter, with Mt. Hebron clinging to a 33-32 lead heading into the fourth. Then the Vikings actually extended their cushion to five, 42-37, following a 3-pointer by Clarke Oliver with 4:03 remaining.
But that’s when Chun took over. She converted an old-fashioned three-point play with a lay-up and ensuing foul shot to trim the deficit to two. Then the next time down she hit her second 3-pointer of the night to put the Dragons back in front.
Glenelg Country would lead by as many as six points in the final minutes courtesy of made foul shots, but the Vikings still managed to give themselves chances to complete a comeback.
Mt. Hebron had the ball down one point with 15 seconds left, but Dixon saw her shot from the wing fall short. Then, following two Chun foul shots with six seconds on the clock made it a three-point game, Valentine had a desperation 3-point attempt bounce off the back rim as time expired.
The win was the second straight for Glenelg Country, which was coming off an IAAM B Conference victory over Mercy.
“Every time out, I was preaching to just be tough and be strong,” Harper said. “Our motto is go hard and whatever you do, do it confidently. There is nothing wrong with confident mistakes. We showed some real mental toughness tonight to pull this out.”
Glenelg Country 53, Mt. Hebron 50
GC (2-2): Chun 18, Gillis 15, Bender 7, Haynes 7, Denny 4, Lisk 2.
MH (0-1): Valentine 23, Dixon 16, Oliver 4, Madden 3, Chase 2, Rodriguez 2.
Half: 25-24 MH.
Tuscarora 48, River Hill 47
T (1-0): Camille Martin 19, Makaala Ambush 13, Chandler Stewart 7, Shannon Kyanam 4, Katie Paredes 4, Hannah Thompson 1.
RH (0-1): Anihya Smith 14, Saniha Jackson 13, Kennedy Clark 9, Emily Masker 6, Maggie O’Keefe 3, Erin Devine 2.
Half: 26-18 RH.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports