Even 10 minutes after the final buzzer had sounded, screams of elation could be heard emanating from the visitors' locker room at Western High School yesterday.
After the intermittent bursts of emotion, Mount Hebron coach Dave Greenberg emerged with a smile he could not contain.
It was the smile that goes along with being No. 1.
Led by sophomore guard Emily Yanero's career-high 25 points, No. 2 Mount Hebron (2-1) had upset top-ranked Western (2-1), 52-47, to stake its claim as the area's best in girls basketball.
Western's loss was its first to an area team since Walbrook upset the Doves in the Baltimore City Public Schools Tournament final in February 1989. Mount Hebron's No. 1 ranking would be its first since the final poll of the 1987-88 season.
"Everybody said we were crazy to schedule Western and even crazier to play them at home," said Mount Hebron junior point guard Erica McCauley (10 points). "Nobody thought we could beat them."
No one, perhaps, except for Western coach Breezy Bishop, who said she scheduled the Vikings, two-time defending Class 2A state champions and winners of five state titles in six years, as an early test for her talented -- but young -- team. Four freshmen started for the Doves yesterday.
"I wanted my team to be spanked early in the season, and that's just what happened," Bishop said. "Now we'll see if they can regroup."
Although the Vikings have the edge over Western in experience, they also are relatively young, having no seniors.
"The fact that we have no seniors shows a lot about our kids' character and courage and a willingness to believe in what we try to do," said Greenberg, whose team lost its opener, 45-42, to Strath Haven (Pa.) on Dec. 6. "We have great leadership from our juniors. They are a real cohesive group."
A large part of Mount Hebron's leadership is provided by McCauley, an excellent ballhandler who rarely turns the ball over. But junior forward Kris Bryant also made a big contribution yesterday, scoring 11 and grabbing 15 rebounds.
Junior Tierney Clark scored just two points, but they were crucial. With Mount Hebron leading by 48-47, Clark's steal and subsequent layup gave the Vikings a 50-47 lead with 41 seconds left.
"That's really what our whole program is about," Greenberg said. "You don't notice Tierney, but she does what we ask her to. She plays hard defensively, and she did a good job inbounding the ball for us."
After Clark's layup, Bryant pulled down a rebound of Kim Smith's missed shot. Mount Hebron's Sandra Benson, a junior, was fouled intentionally, and she made both free throws to give the Vikings a five-point lead and possession with 19 seconds remaining.
It was Yanero, however, who repeatedly came through for Mount Hebron. Her three-pointer with 4:57 left put the Vikings ahead to stay, 42-41. It was the sixth time during the game that Yanero had either put the Vikings ahead or pulled them to a tie.
Yanero, who made her first four field goals and finished 7-for-14 ,, from the field, scored 10 of the Vikings' 15 third-quarter points, including an 8-for-8 performance from the foul line.
"I was all psyched up," said Yanero. "I just felt on today."