The stands were packed. The tension high. The players nervous.
"It felt like it was a state final," said Mount Hebron's Alisha Mosley. "That's how big it was."
Mount Hebron defeated visiting Centennial, 31-25, yesterday in a game that took on more significance because of events that occurred in the last few weeks.
The Vikings recently had to forfeit earlier victories over Centennial and Glenelg after the Howard County Rules and Infractions Committee confirmed what Mount Hebron self-reported -- the team had conducted Sunday practices in violation of state rules.
"Even though we won the first game, technically we lost, so we had to prove to them and to us that we could beat them," said Mosley, who scored 22 points.
"We beat them once. It's good to beat them again," Mount Hebron coach Pat Becker said. "It was a very emotional game."
Trailing, 16-11, Centennial (13-6, 7-5) scored seven straight points to lead at halftime, 18-16.
But they scored only seven points the entire second half. Centennial made three of 28 second-half shots against the Vikings' zone defense.
"We just weren't shooting well," said Centennial guard Mallory Groves. "We tried to get our defense to make up for it most of the game, but if you're not scoring, it's hard to get ahead."
"The quality of shots was excellent," said Centennial coach Dave Greenberg. "We missed shots that we're capable of making. Hopefully we'll make them next time."
Eleventh-ranked Mount Hebron (11-7, 8-4) outscored Centennial, 10-2, in the third quarter for a 26-20 lead.
A three-point basket by Jodi Godbout cut Mount Hebron's advantage to 28-26 with 2:05 remaining. Heather Cole's free throw with 31 seconds left gave Mount Hebron a 29-26 margin.
Both teams exchanged turnovers before Centennial's Meredith Price missed. The missed shot went out of bounds and Centennial retained possession under its basket with 4.6 seconds left.
Kathleen O'Connor tried to inbound the ball, but finding no one open, called time out.
The Eagles, however, had no timeouts left, and Mosley made both technical free throws for the final margin.
Price led No. 16 Centennial with nine points.
* Oakland Mills 43, Glenelg 41: Kena Hodges had 24 points and 24 rebounds as the Scorpions (3-15, 1-11) won their first league game over the 15th-ranked and visiting Gladiators (14-6, 8-4).
Oakland Mills led by as many as 15 points before Glenelg tied the game in the fourth quarter. Hodges hit a basket for a 43-40 lead with just under a minute remaining.