Top-ranked River Hill entered last night's home game against fourth-ranked Mount Hebron having won its first 16 Howard County girls basketball league games by an average of 28 points.
Subtract 26, and you'll have last night's margin.
The Hawks didn't score a basket in the final five minutes and almost blew a 10-point lead but held on for a 53-51 victory that clinched their second straight county championship.
"We won. That's all I can say," said River Hill coach Teresa Waters. "You can't win every game by a margin of 20 or 30 points. We just never got into the flow. We played out of sync."
Fana Walcott's basket gave River Hill (20-1 overall, 17-0 league) a 50-41 lead with 5:14 to play as the Hawks opened the fourth quarter on an 11-4 run. Freshman Ashley Thomas sparked River Hill, scoring three straight baskets, including a three-pointer.
But Walcott's basket was River Hill's last. The Hawks missed their last nine shots.
Greeba Outen Barlow, with a team-high 14 points, made one of two free throws for a 10-point Hawks lead with 4:50 left. A basket by Erin Jaschik, who scored a game-high 20 points, two free throws each from Sierra Charon and Kristen Waagbo (18 points) and another Jaschik basket with 61 seconds left moved Mount Hebron to within 51-49.
But a River Hill miss, Mount Hebron (19-2, 15-2) turned the ball over with 32 seconds to go and lost its only chance to tie.
Walcott, a sophomore point guard with exceptional quickness, drove and was fouled with 20 seconds left. Her two free throws made a four-point River Hill lead.
Jaschik's basket with seven seconds left brought Mount Hebron within two. The Vikings had to foul twice to put River Hill in the one and one. Walcott (12 points) went to the line with 1.8 seconds left and missed the first free throw. Mount Hebron rebounded but never got off a shot.
"I thought we really played well. I'm really proud of the girls," said Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson, whose team was without starting point guard Julie Napolitano (soccer tournament) and lost forward Stephanie Bissett to injury for much of the contest.
River Hill, which beat Mount Hebron by 15 earlier this season, didn't play well in its half-court offense. "We just didn't execute," said Waters, whose team has won 35 straight county games.
IAAM B playoffs
Chapelgate advanced to tomorrow's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship with a 51-26 semifinal win yesterday at Friends.
Freshman guard Heather Landis opened the game with two three-pointers, and the Flames (21-4) were on their way to a 35-15 halftime lead. Chapelgate (21-4) will play top-seeded St. John's at Prospect Hall at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Loyola College.
Landis finished with 14 points and five assists, and junior Christy Groves contributed 13 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks.