Mount Hebron's sixth-ranked girls basketball team allowed an opponent to score more than nine first-half points for the first time this season when 18th-ranked Centennial put up 17 in last night's league game at Mount Hebron.
The second half, however, was a different story as the Vikings limited the Eagles to nine points - three in the final period - en route to a 49-26 victory.
"We really stepped it up defensively in the second half," said Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson. "We played a lot smarter."
The Vikings (5-0 overall, 3-0 league) led 24-17 at halftime, but went five minutes before Kristen Waagbo scored the team's first basket of the third quarter. Centennial also struggled offensively, and didn't make its first shot until Jasmine Hammond scored with 2:29 left. Baskets by Ashley Hall and Hammond brought Centennial (3-2, 2-1) within 26-23, but Waagbo's layup with 40 seconds gave the Vikings a five-point lead going into the final period.
Centennial's 5-foot-10 Lisa Richardson, the team's top rebounder, fouled out with 1:46 left in the third quarter, and Mount Hebron took advantage in the fourth period. Waagbo (18 points) and Erin Jaschik (12 points), both 6-footers, each scored five fourth-quarter points and controlled the inside.
"That hurt us," Centennial coach Ed Trout said of Richardson fouling out. "We gave them a game for three quarters, but they wore us out."
And that's what Mount Hebron, which scored the first 10 points of the final period, wanted to do.
"That was one of our goals coming in," Robinson said. "Even though we didn't get steals off our pressure, we wore them down. We had fresh legs [in the fourth quarter] and they didn't."
Mount Hebron hasn't allowed an opponent to score more than 30 points. Its defense has allowed an average of 26 points a game.
What's the Vikings' secret?
"We have good ball pressure and we're really intense," said Waagbo, a sophomore.
Said Jaschik: "[Point guard] Julie [Napolitano] puts a lot of good pressure on the ball, and everyone else can step up to deny. We play well together as a team. We have really good chemistry this year."
Hammond led Centennial with 11 points, including seven of her team's nine second-half points.
"We played with effort, we played hard," Trout said. "But give them credit. They play defense. They shut us down."