DuVal spoils dream for young River Hill

Defending champ stops No. 1 Hawks, 40-37

Girls 3A regional final

High School

March 04, 2000|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Poor decisions, turnovers and Vernessa Neamo's 21 points ended top-ranked River Hill's perfect season last night.

The Hawks' inexperience also was a factor, especially at the end, and DuVal, a veteran team and defending state champion, took advantage for a 40-37 victory in the Class 3A East region championship at River Hill.

Neamo, a 5-foot-9 senior headed to George Mason, put DuVal (22-3) ahead for good, 36-35, when she posted up low in the lane and hit a turnaround bank shot with 2: 59 left to play.

DuVal coach Walter Clark said Neamo, who averages 15 points, "put the team on her shoulder and took it to the states."

Said River Hill coach Teresa Waters: "DuVal had a go-to player that delivered."

River Hill (24-1), which started two freshmen and three juniors, led by as many as seven late in the first half. DuVal, which started three players from last year's title team, had its largest lead of three points in the second half.

River Hill, which led 22-19 at halftime, survived a poor third quarter. The Hawks scored only two baskets, and their leading scorer, Greeba Outen-Barlow, went to the bench with her fifth foul with 5: 11 left.

DuVal, a winner of 19 straight, outscored River Hill 11-5 for a 30-27 lead heading into the final period.

Outen-Barlow (11 points) started the final period, and her basket gave River Hill a 31-30 lead with 5: 33 left to play. Outen-Barlow's driving shot in the lane with 4: 37 left gave the Hawks a 33-32 advantage, but that turned out to be River Hill's last basket.

Neamo put DuVal back on top before two free throws by Keiko Miller-Tate gave the Hawks their final lead of the game, 35-34, with 3: 49 to play.

After both teams committed turnovers, Neamo scored to make it 36-35 with 2: 59. Outen-Barlow missed the front of a one-and-one, then Chineze Nwagbo, who is headed to Syracuse, scored on a layup for a 38-35 advantage with 2: 13 left.

The Hawks, who looked out of sync for much of the game against the tall and quick Tigers, committed turnovers on their next two possessions. DuVal's Lynnette Clark, the coach's daughter, fouled Rashida Walcott as Walcott attempted to steal the ball from her. Walcott made both free throws to cut DuVal's lead to 38-37 with 53 seconds.

River Hill then fouled three straight times to force DuVal into a one-and-one situation. Clark was fouled with 11 seconds remaining, and she made both for a three-point lead.

Fana Walcott, the Hawks' freshman point guard, missed from just inside the three-point arch, but River Hill retained possession out of bounds. The Hawks had one more chance, but Outen-Barlow inbounded the ball to Miller-Tate inside the circle, and her two-point shot missed as the buzzer sounded.

"Our kids played with a lot of heart," Waters said. "We just fell a little short. [DuVal's] experience was the difference at the end."

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