Lightning burns R. Hill, 59-54 Long Reach's team play offsets Outen's 28 points

March 05, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Long Reach, which didn't win a game last season, is a victory away from reaching the state tournament.

The second-year Lightning got clutch baskets from Thandi Howell, Demetria Hamilton and Allison West in the final two minutes, and a solid performance from freshman center Tamera Jackson to hold off visiting River Hill, 59-54, last night in a Class 2A South region semifinal game.

Long Reach (11-14) will play for the region title tomorrow at Potomac, which downed 15th-ranked Centennial, 44-43.

"I still can't believe it," said Hamilton 10 minutes after her team had withstood a spectacular 28-point performance from River Hill freshman Greeba Outen. "I knew we could do it if we worked together."

In a fast-paced, turnover-plaqued game, Lightning had a number of players come up big.

"Everybody is pitching in little by little. We have no superstars," said Long Reach coach Shanya Evans, who has one of Howard County's youngest, most athletic teams.

River Hill, which got 15 points -- including three three-pointers -- from senior Caitlin Bair, took its last lead of the game, 52-51, on two free throws by Cristin Etheridge with 2: 17 remaining.

Howell, a junior point guard, then drove the lane and banked it in high off the glass for a 53-52 lead with 2: 06 remaining.

River Hill turned the ball over twice before Howell sank a jumper from just inside the three-point circle for a three-point lead with 1: 31 left.

Outen, who scored 13 of her team's 15 fourth-quarter points, made a layup with 1: 12 to cut the Hawks' deficit to 55-54.

Hamilton then drove from the top of the key right down the lane for an easy basket and a 57-54 advantage with 56 seconds.

"I saw that the lane was open, and I decided to take it in," Hamilton said. "I didn't think it would be that easy."

River Hill (12-13) turned it over again, and the Lightning scored off the ensuing inbounds pass. The 6-foot Jackson, who had 13 points and controlled the boards, threw a long pass to the streaking West, who made a nice catch and scored the layup for a 59-54 cushion with 17 seconds.

"Long Reach played a great game," said River Hill coach Karen Saunderson. "I can't be upset with my girls. They did a good job. It was an exciting game, the type of game a regional semifinal should be."

Said Outen, who scored her team's first 10 points, helping River Hill to a 10-4 lead: "It just slipped away from us. We tried our hardest."

Potomac 44, No. 15 Centennial 43: The Eagles (19-6) trailed by six in the third quarter before freshman Ashley Evans (11 points) scored nine straight points to get Centennial back in the game. The Eagles closed to within one point in the final seconds, but could not hit the game-winning shot.

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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