Mount Hebron's Alisha Mosely and Kathy Doyle had not forgotten last year's season-ending loss to Howard.
That disappointment, in the regional semifinal, sent the Vikings home and propelled Howard to the state Class 3A championship.
Last night, Mosely and Doyle led the No. 19 Vikings in avenging that loss, combining for 34 points in a 54-49 win over No. 14 Howard in the Howard County League opener for both teams.
"We should never have lost to them last year," said point guard Mosely. "We had a lot more talent than them. I figured this year we would come out and show them what we had."
Like her Howard teammates, Mona Jackson knew the Vikings would have that loss on their minds. "That was one motivator and also that their coach [Pat Becker] teaches at our school. I guess they had so many things to get back at us for, it was like they wanted it more," she said.
Although the host Vikings (6-3) trailed early and never led by more than six points, that third-quarter buffer was enough to hold the lead until the final buzzer.
Howard (5-4) got into foul trouble trying to stop Mosely (19 points, three steals) and Doyle (15 points, eight rebounds), who proved an unbeatable combination on offense and defense.
"Kathy and Alisha are quality players and we couldn't stop them," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell. "We tried everything -- triangle-and-two, man-to-man, deny this, deny that. No matter what we tried, it didn't work. Those two beat us."
Early on, Jackson sparked the Lions to a 10-2 lead with eight points. The senior forward scored 13 of her 20 points in the first 10 minutes.
Jackson's three-point play gave Howard a 17-10 edge to open the second quarter. But the Lions missed their next 11 shots and the Vikings scored 11 straight to go ahead 21-17.
Late in the third quarter, the Vikings extended their lead to six. The Lions cut the margin to one three times, but the Vikings stifled each potential rally.
Hebron led 41-38 early in the fourth quarter, when Howard's Megan Boehm scored on two consecutive possessions to cut the lead to 43-42. Sarah Eberhart answered with a driving layup.
Then Boehm, who scored six of her 15 points in the final quarter, hit a follow shot to bring the Lions within 45-44. Doyle rolled in a left-handed layup to send the edge back to three.
Chanelle Carter's baseline jumper again brought Howard within one, but Mosely drove for a layup to push the Vikings' edge to 49-46 with 2:19 to go. Mosely added three free throws to boost the lead to 52-46.
Jackson made a 20-footer from the top of the key with 33 seconds remaining. But Eberhart, who scored six of her 12 points in the final quarter, hit both ends of a one-and-one with nine seconds left to seal the win.
The loss was the fourth in six games for the Lions, who face No. 2 Hammond tomorrow.
"We're just not as good as people might have thought we were," said O'Connell, The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro Coach of the Year last year. "We're still trying to find ourselves."