Hebron puts 9-0 on line vs. nemesis Hammond


January 12, 1994|By RICK BELZ

So far Mount Hebron's boys basketball team is 9-0, building lots of momentum and earning quite a bit of respect from opposing county coaches.

Some of those coaches will say Mount Hebron and Atholton are the class teams of the league.

The Vikings are No. 12 in The Baltimore Sun Top 20 -- the only ranked county team.

They defeated perennial Catholic power Loyola for the first time since 1989, and did it convincingly, 77-51. Loyola is No. 19.

And they have the county's premier long-range shooter, Kurtis Jestes, who is averaging 24.9 points, fifth in the metro area.

Then why would the Vikings be worried about tonight's opponent, Hammond, which is 3-5?

They might worry partly because they have played seven of their nine games at home and tonight's contest is at Hammond.

They might worry because they have played a lot of weak teams and Hammond has played one of the toughest -- if not the toughest -- nonleague schedules a county team has ever played.

And they should worry because Hammond, more than any other county team, has a history of being Mount Hebron's ultimate test for success.

If the Vikings beat Hammond tonight, then recent history has shown that they will have a highly successful season. If they lose, then the rest of their season may be just mediocre.

Last season Mount Hebron went 3-11 in the league and lost twice to Hammond. In 1992 the Vikings went 11-3 in the league and beat Hammond twice.

In 1991 Mount Hebron went 8-6 in the league and lost to Hammond twice. In 1990 the Vikings went 5-9 in the league and lost to Hammond twice. In 1989 the Vikings went 8-6 and lost to Hammond twice.

No other team has presented such an ultimate test for success for Mount Hebron.

For instance, during their 11-3 season of 1992 in which they beat Hammond twice, the Vikings still lost twice to Oakland Mills. Hammond and Oakland Mills have dominated county basketball during the past six years.

The Bears, who have lost to No. 4 Woodlawn, No. 6 Gibbons and No. 7 Southern-AA, are coming off back-to-back wins over Aberdeen and Wilde Lake and seem to be building momentum.

Hammond outscored the Wildecats, 31-11, in the fourth quarter Friday at Wilde Lake to take a 72-56 victory.

Without coach Jack Burke, who was at home recovering from a sinus infection, the Bears won with their press and by hitting 14 of 17 free throws in the fourth period.

Assistant coach Dana Beszczynski guided the Bears in Burke's absence.

"Dana came up with a great game plan, as he has all season," Burke said. "Friday we were able to execute it."

Hammond, which trailed by six early in the fourth quarter, shot only 37 percent -- typical for a Hammond team.

But the Bears excelled with 62 rebounds, made only 15 turnovers and sank 21 of 28 free throws. They also kept Wilde Lake off the foul line, as the Wildecats were 8-for-18.

Overall, the Bears are more athletic than Mount Hebron and the Vikings typically have trouble with such teams.

Although the Vikings beat an athletic Howard squad Friday, 66-59, they showed vulnerability in the third quarter when their 20-point halftime lead was cut to seven.

"We played a superb first half against a good team, but in the third quarter we missed a lot of easy shots and Howard scored a lot on transition off rebounds," Vikings coach Scott Robinson said.

The Vikings held Howard scoring leader Javier Michaux to 14 points, about 11 below normal.

"I don't think Michaux got many shots," Robinson said. "We didn't do anything special against him."

Howard had closed within two points in the final two minutes when Michaux fouled out.

In other games tonight, the Lions (3-6, 0-1) will try to rebound by playing host to Oakland Mills (5-3, 1-0).

The Scorpions proved too much for Centennial on Friday, beating the Eagles, 81-73. Oakland Mills led 40-26 at halftime, and then let the Eagles back into the game.

"We're still inconsistent and have a ways to go before we're FTC good," Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby said. "We need to play better defense and to recognize time and situation during the game."

Meanwhile, Centennial (6-3, 0-1) will take on preseason favorite Atholton, which has depth and likes an up-tempo style.

Against Oakland Mills, Centennial was beaten on the boards and by Michael Hill's 32 points -- many of them coming off fast breaks. Hill averages 25 points.

"Oakland Mills was stronger inside and when we fouled them to stop the clock they hit their free throws," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. Oakland Mills was 30-for-40 at the foul line.

"We played a box-and-one on [Michael] Hill but he still scored 21 points in the first half," coach Hill said.

Centennial's leading scorer was Kurt Weitzel with 19 points.

Atholton (7-2, 1-0), a solid 84-64 winner over Glenelg Friday, is one of the league's quickest teams and has good long-range shooters.

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