Mt. Hebron’s Tori Valentine has put a significant amount of her focus this winter on being a facilitator, getting teammates involved early and often. But when push came to shove in the fourth quarter on the road against Marriotts Ridge Friday night, the Vikings junior point guard was more than ready to take over as needed.
Scoring the first six points of the period for her team, Valentine helped Mt. Hebron open up its first double-digit advantage of the evening and ultimately set the stage for a 41-35 victory over the Mustangs.
“I’ve been working on my shot and my game-time mentality of never letting my foot off the gas pedal,” Valentine said. “I know the ball is best in the hands of people who want to score and I try to just do that for my team.”
Valentine ended up scoring a game-high 23 points — to go along with six rebounds, four assists and three steals — to lead Mt. Hebron (4-3, 7-5) to its third straight victory. Meredith Williams also chipped in with a season-high nine points and eight rebounds, helping lead the team’s effort on the interior.
“Our focus was on good man-to-man help defense, which I thought we did a really good job with, and we knew with it being the third game of the week for us that the lower the score, the better our chances were going to be,” said interim coach Bob Mallory. “It was very big for us to play extra hard for coach [Tierney Ahearn], who is up in New York taking care of some personal matters. And I think the girls are very happy leaving here tonight with this win.”
On the other side, Marriotts Ridge (3-3, 5-7) suffered its sixth loss this season by eight points or less. The Mustangs scrapped defensively, holding the Vikings 12 points below their season average, and answered every Mt. Hebron run with one of their own.
In the end, however, enough shots simply didn’t fall.
“I felt like our defensive game plan tonight worked very well and the girls did all the right things on offense to get good shots, but we just struggled to finish,” Marriotts Ridge coach Sarah Miller said. “They are battling for a full 32 minutes and, really, that’s all I can ask of them. We went over six minutes there to start the third quarter without a point and while we battled back after that, that stretch was probably the difference in the game.”
Emma Morath (9 points) and Mallory Conroy (8) finished as the leading scorers for a Mustangs’ squad that saw eight different players score at least one basket.
Mt. Hebron held narrow leads at the end of the first (9-8), second (24-22) and third quarters (33-28) before Valentine asserted herself early in the final period. Following her jumper with 6:02 remaining, the Vikings had moved ahead 39-29.
From there, though, Marriotts Ridge held Mt. Hebron without a basket the rest of the way and managed to get itself back to as close as four points in the final minute. But before things could get any closer, Eve Chase hit a pair of foul shots for the Vikings to officially seal the victory.
Mt. Hebron 41, Marriotts Ridge 35
MH (4-3, 7-5): Valentine 23, Williams 9, Chase 3, Dixon 2, Oliver 2, Harrington 2.
MR (3-3, 5-7): Morath 9, Conroy 8, Noll 6, Kohler 4, Lee 2, Colburn 2, Miller 2, Crawford 2.
Half: 24-22 MH.
River Hill 57, Howard 55
After losing a heartbreaker in overtime against Long Reach on Wednesday, the Hawks broke through for the statement victory over the first-place Lions. Kennedy Clark ended up sinking the game-clinching foul shots for River Hill with .7 seconds left on the clock.
Emily Masker (17 points), Clark (13), Saniha Jackson (13) and Anihya Smith (12) all had standout efforts for River Hill in the victory.
Gabby Scott paced Howard with 17 points in the loss.
RH (4-3, 7-5): Masker 17, Clark 13, Jackson 13, Smith 12, Devine 2.
Ho (5-2, 9-2): Scott 17, Sanchez-Henry 16, Harris 10, Russell 5, Malagar 5, Durkee 2.
Half: 24-18 Ho.
Oakland Mills 62, Atholton 37
Every player on the Scorpions’ roster scored, with Marley Grenway and Jazmine Washington leading the way with 13 points apiece in the victory over the Raiders. Grenway hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter to help break open the game after Oakland Mills led by just two at the half.
OM (6-1, 10-1): Grenway 13, Washington 13, Scott-Pearson 12, Riggs 11, King 8, McDuffie 2, Eldridge 2, Brown 1.
A (1-6, 3-9): Cannon 14, A. Hargrett 13, C. Morton 4, Blair 3, Ruley 2, Brown 1.
Half: 25-23 OM.
Reservoir 68, Wilde Lake 45
Emily Dorn scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Tiffany Hooker (14 points), Kate Abunassar (11 points, 4 assists and 4 steals) and Maddy Davis (career-high 10 points) joined her in double figures offensively to lead the way past the Wildecats.
Kalani Corkeron led the way in the loss for Wilde Lake with 20 points.
Re (6-1, 9-2): Dorn 21, Hooker 14, Abunassar 11, Davis 10, Bailey 6, Turner 2, Holmes 2, Dudzinski 2.
WL (0-7, 1-10): Corkeron 20, Mullican 7, Floyd 6, Swaby-Rowe 5, Richards 4, Zimmerman 3.
Half: 41-24 Re.
Centennial 42, Glenelg 28
The Eagles trailed by as many as 12 points, 17-5, at one point in the first half before regrouping to beat the Gladiators. Brook Anderson ended up scoring a season-high 20 points for Centennial, hitting five 3-pointers along the way.
C (3-4, 5-5): Anderson 20, Dossett 6, Welsh 5, Pearson 4, Molz 4, Jackson 2, Sopchick 1.
G (1-6, 2-9): LePage 9, Hirsch 6, Prezelski 5, Anderson 4, Gillespie 4.
Mount de Sales 49, Glenelg Country 36
The Dragons were ahead 18-4 at the end of the first quarter, but were unable to hold off Mount de Sales down the stretch. The Sailors won the fourth quarter by a score of 21-6 to pull away.
MDS: Zaranski 15, Kuhn 11, Walker 9, Krug 9, Matsko 4, Skalstad 1.
GC (5-2, 8-6): Bender 15, Haynes 9, C. Pell 6, Chun 4, J. Pell 2.
Half: 22-11 GC.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports