River Hill back on track, beats Mt. Hebron, 55-41

No. 10 Hawks put stop to 4-game losing streak

Girls basketball

January 12, 2002|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

With four consecutive losses entering last night's game against Mount Hebron, River Hill knew its season had reached the crossroads.

The No. 10 Hawks could do one of two things: They could cast aside the excuses, wipe away their tears and play their best basketball of the year, or they could fold and get blitzed by the Vikings, the No. 4 girls team in the area, and abandon any hope of getting back in the thick of the Howard County race.

And so River Hill simply went out on its home floor and dominated, out-rebounding and out-hustling Mount Hebron in a convincing 55-41 victory.

"We told ourselves over and over we needed this win," River Hill's Megan Buescher said. "I knew that if we continued to work, we'd still have a chance. I think this was really important to get people feeling good again, to keep them from getting down on themselves."

It wasn't easy. During their recent rough stretch, the Hawks (6-6, 5-3 county) had struggled with just about everything, most significantly their guard play. But against the Vikings, sophomore point guard Ashley Thomas played perhaps the best game of her young career, scoring 18 points and leading River Hill's solid defensive effort, which forced 23 turnovers.

"When we play intense defense, it really gets us going," Thomas said. "We wanted this one pretty bad because we knew it could turn things around for us. But it had to start with our defense, and tonight I think we showed how important it is for us."

Buescher had 10 points and six rebounds, but it was her defense that sparked River Hill's 25-17 halftime lead. The 6-foot junior forward was locked onto Mount Hebron's Kristen Waagbo during the first half, and made the Vikings' All-Metro post player work to catch the ball every time down the court. Though Waagbo - who scored only six points in the first half - finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, it wasn't enough.

Mount Hebron (9-3, 6-2) pulled to within 42-36 on a Waagbo jumper in the fourth quarter, but Thomas answered with jumpers on consecutive possessions, and the Vikings didn't challenge again.

"They kicked out butts tonight," Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson said. "I've said all along that River Hill is the most athletic team in the league, and it showed tonight. It's tough to go on the road and win in this county. They hurt us on the boards, and I think that was a big difference."

Brittany Gordon was a big reason for the Hawks' 30-23 advantage on the glass. Gordon had 13 points and seven rebounds.

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