Success has come often to Mount Hebron girls basketball coach Dave Greenberg. But success has not always come easy.
Take this year's Vikings. Sure, they were blessed with three of the Baltimore area's better players in Kris Bryant, Erica McCauley and Emily Yanero. But that doesn't fully explain how Hebron achieved a 21-1 regular season record, won its 12th county championship in 14 seasons under Greenberg or held The Baltimore Sun's No. 1 metropolitan area ranking for nearlythree months.
The Vikings won night after night, despite noticeable shortcomings.
They were usually slower than the good teams they faced. They lacked the strong bench that has typified past Hebron teams. Their lack of quickness often forced them to avoid the full-court press defense that has been one of their trademarks. And yet, against the area's toughest schedule, the Vikings still reeled off 21 consecutive victories.
Greenberg, the Howard County Sun's Coach of the Year, deserves much of the credit for that.
"We're very skilled, but we're not athletically gifted," Greenberg said. "What we did was maximize thoseskills and play intelligently on a very consistent basis. Nobody didwhat we did against the competition we played. It's not even close."
Greenberg, who never ducks a tough opponent, makes an irrefutablepoint.
Before going through the state's premier girls basketball county undefeated -- for the ninth time in Greenberg's 14 years -- the Vikings beat Western, Old Mill and Springbrook.
Western had beenthe area's top-ranked team until Hebron beat them, 52-47, to take over the top spot in mid-December. Old Mill and Springbrook played in last year's Class 4A championship game. Hebron beat them both in the Christmas IABBO tournament. The Vikings' 60-41 whipping of Old Mill came three months before Old Mill won its second consecutive 4A title.
"We didn't know if we'd be .500 going into counties," Greenberg said. "I'm real pleased with how we responded to our schedule. We worked cohesively and responded cohesively. This might have been as good ateam as we've had in a lot of respects."
The Vikings did something no Greenberg team has ever done. They seized the area's No. 1 ranking early in the season and held it for three months. Along the way, Hebron had several close calls against the county's top teams.
Howard pushed them to the limit in January before losing by nine. Glenelgled Hebron for most of the second half last month before losing by 12. And Hammond, in a preview of its playoff upset at Hebron two weeksago, nearly upset the Vikings last month before falling by four.
Greenberg's system -- which places a premium on man-to-man defense, disciplined offense and role players like defensive specialist TierneyClark -- accounted for Hebron's success as much as McCauley's three-point shooting, or Bryant's inside power, or Yanero's foul shooting.
"We knew and the kids knew that we weren't that good, in that we always had to play hard," Greenberg said. "It makes me appreciate whatwe've done this year and over the years."
Selected as Coachof the Year