No. 2 Hammond ran all over No. 16 Glenelg's upset hopes yesterday in a 69-35 victory.
Guards Tiki Nicholson and Kacy Williams led a swarming pressure defense that forced 19 turnovers and held the visiting Gladiators to just two baskets in the first half.
The duo sparked a second-quarter rally that broke the game open for the Golden Bears, now the only unbeaten team in the Howard County girls league.
Nicholson had six points and Williams, three assists and three steals in an eight-point run that gave the Bears a 25-7 lead just two minutes into the second quarter.
"We had to expect this was going to happen," said Glenelg coach Randy Wallenhorst, whose team averaged just over 14 turnovers a game before giving the ball up 31 times yesterday.
"They've got two guards who are Division I-caliber players. When you get two guards like that, it's tough to play against."
Nicholson, a 5-foot-7 junior looking more impressive with every game, led the Bears with 20 points, 16 rebounds and eight steals. Point-guard Williams, who already has signed with Georgetown, added eight points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and six steals.
For Hammond (10-1 overall, 5-0 league), a strong defense is the best offense, and yesterday their transition game simply rolled over the Gladiators (11-2, 4-1). The Bears scored 26 points off Glenelg turnovers -- 17 in the first half.
All eight points in that second-quarter run came off steals. The Gladiators struggled to get the ball out of their own backcourt as Hammond smothered the passes over and over again.
It was obvious early that Glenelg did not have the ballhandlers to contend with the quickness of Nicholson and Williams.
"They're full pressure all the time. They're straight on you and they're doubling you and it's really annoying. That's what hurts. People get frustrated. Everyone's doing their own thing and we get mixed up," said guard Christina Flowers, who did most of the ball-handling for Glenelg.
The Gladiators didn't show much offense in the first half as 12 of their 16 points came at the free-throw line. They shot just 17 percent from the floor in the half.
Things got a little better in the second half, however, as the Gladiators started scoring from inside and out. Center Trish Kilroy scored four of her team-high 10 points in the third quarter and Kim Brown added eight, including two three-pointers.
Even though the Gladiators held onto the ball and improved their shooting in the second half, they still were no match for the Bears.
Hammond did not get as many points off its defense, but still hit eight of 12 shots in the third quarter. Nicholson and Kellye Townsend scored six each as the Bears pulled out to a 58-30 lead after three quarters.
For Glenelg, the loss was not too discouraging, said Wallenhorst, pleased with his team's better performance in the second half.
"This doesn't show we're worse than our record appears. This just shows us Hammond is the top team -- and they're that good."
* Oakland Mills 41, Wilde Lake 38: After trailing at the half, Oakland Mills (5-6, 2-3), led by senior guard Melissa Singleton's BTC 13 points, rallied early in the fourth quarter to upset No. 20 Wilde Lake (5-7, 1-4) in a Howard County League game.
Junior center Lauren McHargue added 10 for the Scorpions. Wilde Lake's Kristen Riismandel led all scorers with 17.