Trio of upsets has forced four-way logjam at top

River Hill, Long Reach, Hammond, Glenelg tied

Boys basketball

January 06, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Call it the night of the upset.

River Hill, Long Reach and Hammond all had 4-1 league records and were tied for first place heading into Friday night's action. All three teams lost and are now in a four-way tie for first place along with Glenelg.

River Hill's 39-37 loss to Centennial was the closest of the three upsets.

The Hawks (7-3 overall, 4-2 league) shot only 28 percent from the floor against Centennial's 2-3 zone, as the Eagles walked the ball up the floor trying to play as slowly as possible without going into an outright freeze.

Centennial's pace may have thrown off River Hill's Kevin Steenberge's shooting, and the Eagles' compact zone defense collapsed on him. Steenberge scored 18 points and had 18 rebounds, but he shot a subpar 7-for-18 from the floor.

"It was our worst shooting game of the season, and some turnovers hurt us," Hawks coach Brian Van Deusen said.

Trailing by two points in the final minute, the Hawks got a good shot but missed, and added to their frustration by missing three straight put-back attempts.

Howard's 70-59 upset of Long Reach was the biggest of the three if you consider that the Lions were 1-4 in league play and Long Reach was 4-1. The Lightning was 8-1 overall and coming off a big High Point tournament victory.

"You can't look past your next game in this league," Long Reach coach Al Moraz said.

Tim McNulty made four three-pointers for the Lions. Center Paul Thompson led the Lions with 20 points.

Howard held a 16-point lead in the third quarter, but Long Reach (8-2, 4-2) kept coming at the Lions.

"This was for neighborhood bragging rights and at our place," Howard coach Greg Smith said. "It was really personal to a lot of the kids."

Howard (4-6, 2-4) controlled the boards and Long Reach struggled at the foul line (13-for-25) before a packed house.

"We didn't make the kind of costly turnovers that hurt us in three close losses to Oakland Mills, Hammond and Glenelg before Christmas," Smith said. "We were due to win."

Anthony Gaither led Long Reach with 27 points.

"They pushed it better than us and outplayed us at our own game," Moraz said. "If his [Smith] kids can play like that, they'll be in contention for a county title."

Glenelg's 72-52 victory over Hammond was the least of the upsets, and Glenelg coach Jeremy Snyder doesn't think it even was an upset.

The Gladiators (6-4, 4-2) broke it open by outscoring Hammond in the second quarter 18-4.

"We played our matchup zone that made them shoot outside and they were 14-for-46," Snyder said. "They shot 22 threes and made only five."

Glenelg out-rebounded Hammond, 45-23.

The Golden Bears were missing their main inside presence, 6-6 Josh Wheeler, a transfer from North Carolina. Wheeler had not returned from North Carolina after the holiday break.

The Gladiators also made 30 of their 47 free-throw attempts while Hammond was 17-for-29 at the line.

"Our guards have struggled this season, but they held their own against Hammond," Snyder said. "Eric Breland had a career-high 17 rebounds and that helped."

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