Long Reach outlasts River Hill

Lightning's Gross hits career-high 34, grabs 10 rebounds in 77-73 win

High Schools

Boys basketball

January 23, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Long Reach needed every last ounce of what Josh Gross had to give last night against River Hill.

Fortunately for the Lightning, Gross was more than willing.

The senior forward scored a career-high 34 points and pulled in 10 rebounds as Long Reach escaped with an important 77-73 win at home. Gross fired up shots from all sorts of angles, ranges and areas of the floor (23 in all), but made big shots when his team needed them the most, as the Lightning (9-1 in league, 11-2 overall) won another close game.

Gross' performance overshadowed, but barely, a superb all-around game from River Hill center Kevin Steenberge, who scored 21 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked eight shots.

"They're both very good players - two of the best in the county," said Long Reach coach Al Moraz. "What can you say? They battled each other. Fortunately, we had some guys step up and show a lot of heart. I'm real proud of our whole team."

If Gross was the headliner, then guard Anthony Gaither deserved best supporting sidekick. River Hill shot magnificently from the field to open the game, going 11-for-15 in the first quarter to take the early lead, but Gross and Gaither managed to catch the Hawks napping several times in transition in the second quarter, getting a multitude of layups to pull within 39-38 at halftime.

"We started slow, but we executed on offense and defense better as the game went on," Gross said. "Anthony stepped up a lot for us this season. He's going to be a real good player."

In fact, both supporting casts played well, as River Hill battled back to regain the lead late into the fourth quarter behind Ahren Green, who took over on offense after Steenberge got into foul trouble. Green scored 19 points for the night.

But Gross seemed to come up with a basket, or a big play, whenever Long Reach looked like it might let the game slip away. With Long Reach leading 71-68, Gross held his ground in the paint as Steenberge grabbed a miss and scored, but the basket was waived off and Steenberge was called for an offensive foul, his fifth on the night. Gross made two free throws to put things out of reach.

"I felt like I had to step it up because our leading rebounder was out tonight," Gross said of the Lightning's Nick Andrews, who missed the game for personal reasons. "But it was a good win for us. I give Kevin [Steenberge] credit, he played well, but we did what we had to do to win."

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