Howard sophomore Stacey Swiney, an all-county catcher last year, already has missed three softball practices this spring.
And she'll miss at least two more.
But who's counting?
"When something like this comes along," Swiney said, "it's the last thing on my mind."
That's because Swiney and her basketball teammates are still alive in the Class 2A South region playoffs. The Lions, who lost to Oakland Mills twice in the regular season, out-rebounded and out-hustled the host Scorpions last night en route to a 56-49 quarterfinal round victory.
Howard (12-12) will play host to Howard County co-champion Wilde Lake (19-4) tomorrow. The eighth-ranked Wildecats defeated Howard during the regular season by eight and seven points.
The Lions' victory certainly was a team effort, but Swiney's two baskets at the end of the third quarter were pivotal and her two baskets near the end of the game put Howard ahead for good.
"This was one of her better games," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell. "Timing is everything."
Oakland Mills, which had trailed by 10 points in the first quarter, took its largest lead, 40-33, on Jamie Beale's layup with 1: 11 left in the third quarter. Howard's Chanelle Carter made one of two free throws, then Swiney stole the ball and scored. Following an Oakland Mills turnover, Swiney scored with 12 seconds and Oakland Mills' lead was cut to two, 40-38, entering the fourth quarter.
Howard, which got a strong defensive effort by Swiney's backcourt mate, Christina Bly, opened the final period with a 9-3 run to take a 47-43 lead with 3: 54 to play. The Scorpions responded with four straight points, tying the game on Adrienne Butler's baseline jumper with 2: 46 remaining.
Swiney then put Howard ahead with her favorite shot. She drove the lane, stopped, and hit the short jumper with 2: 34 left.
Kena Hodges, who led Oakland Mills with 19 points, made a baseline jumper but it was waved off because of a travel violation.
Swiney came right back and made another short jumper in the lane, giving Howard a 51-47 lead with 2: 05 to play.
Oakland Mills looked a little shaky at that point. "I think we saw the score and mentally it took us out of the game," said Hodges, who has signed a scholarship to attend Furman University.
Following a missed three-point attempt by Oakland Mills, Carter, who had 13 of her team-high 19 points in the second half, scored again for a 53-47 lead with 81 seconds remaining. Jessica Oster's basket pulled Oakland Mills within four, but the Scorpions didn't score again, missing three shots in the final minute.
"They wanted it a little more then we did," Hodges said. "They never stopped playing. We would have spurts.
"I think we were a little laid back mentally because nobody thought we were going to lose. They surprised us. They came out hard and played well."
Swiney, who scored 15 points, 11 in the second half, said she doesn't have a lot of confidence driving the lane.
"Especially when there are tall girls in there like Kena [6-2]," said the 5-6 Swiney. "But I've done it for some games. It's there when I need it."
Howard junior center Evelyn Nkwenti, coming off a 28-point, 16-rebound effort in last Friday's 79-31 win over Great Mills, had another solid game. She scored 10 points, but more importantly, her defense against Hodges and her rebounding was outstanding.
"She had a great game," said O'Connell.
Howard's rebounding "improved tremendously" from the regular season games against Oakland Mills, according to O'Connell.
"They killed us on the boards," Hodges said. "They had a lot of second and third shots."
The Lions also seemed to have a little more desire.
"They whole team really wanted it bad," Swiney said. "Everybody stepped up."
Said O'Connell: "We've talked [throughout the season] about what we have to do to win. This was one of those games they did everything they had to do."
Hammond 55, Surrattsville 36: Crystal Todd scored 19 and Rene Hines added 16 as No. 12 Hammond (20-4) topped visiting Surrattsville in a 2A South quarterfinal. The Bears will play at Glenelg in a region semifinal tomorrow.
Glenelg 66, Forestville 34: Four players scored in double figures, led by Kris Brust's 14 points, as the Gladiators (13-11) defeated winless and host Forestville (0-19) in a 2A South quarterfinal. River Hill 65, Catoctin 30: Lauren Martin's 25 points helped the host Hawks (9-15) to a 1A South quarterfinal win. River Hill and Brunswick will meet in a region semifinal tomorrow.
F.S. Key 54, Long Reach 49: The Lightning (0-23) got 16 points from Thandi Howell but it wasn't enough against F.S. Key in a 1A South quarterfinal.
Pub Date: 3/05/97