Howard coach Kevin Broadus stood at midcourt before last night's tip-off with host Mount Hebron wondering which one of his Lions' basketball teams would show up. Would it be the one that upset Howard County's upstart Glenelg earlier this month or the squad that lost winnable games to Wilde Lake and Atholton last week.
Broadus' answer came in the second half when Howard's hustling seniors took over and led the team to a 48-45 victory over Mount Hebron (8-5, 2-3).
"We lost two tough games in the last week and the seniors knew we needed this one," Howard point guard Mike Brown said. "I think our performance in the second half told you how much we wanted it."
Mount Hebron had a desperation shot at overtime, but Viking junior guard Mark Jensen's three-pointer rolled in and out of the basket at the buzzer.
Broadus credited Brown, who scored nine of his team-high 11 points in the second half, and the Lions' bench (23 points) for the victory.
"Mike stepped his game up in the third quarter when we needed it and our bench, with Chris Thatch, Dwight Case and Jeremy Milan, gave us some scoring in the second half," Broadus said.
Trailing 29-21 at halftime, Howard chipped away at the Vikings' lead. On a night the Lions' leading scorer Javier Michaux would be held to just five points -- 14 below his average -- Brown notched seven points in the the third quarter and Milam's turnaround jumper to close out the period trimmed the Vikings' lead to 36-34.
Mount Hebron, behind sophomore guard Kurtis Jestes' seven fourth-quarter points, held Howard (6-7, 3-2) at bay until Thatch converted a three-point attempt from deep in the far corner to give the Lions a 46-45 lead with 1:25 left in the game.
Mount Hebron tied the score at 45 on two free throws by Jestes, but Milam made the front end of a bonus foul shot to put Howard back on top, 46-45, with 26 seconds remaining.
Jestes (13 points) took a desperation shot that landed shy of the rim and Michaux harnessed the loose ball before shuffling the ball over to Brown. Mount Hebron fouled Brown, but the Lions' senior calmly sank both free throws.