Mt. Hebron, Howard enjoy hot new year

Boys basketball teams, winners of three straight, shake up the leaders


High Schools

January 13, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mount Hebron and Howard are the hottest boys basketball teams in the county since league play resumed Jan. 4. Each team has won three straight games, and each produced a significant victory Friday night.

Mount Hebron dropped River Hill out of a first-place tie with defending county co-champion Long Reach by defeating the Hawks, 67-65, in overtime.

Howard prevented defending county co-champion Centennial from climbing into second place by defeating the Eagles, 74-56.

"It was a crazy game played before a big crowd" - that's how Mount Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer described his team's upset victory. "We stole one. I'm still not sure how we won it because we were down by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter. I guess we're winning on defense."

The Vikings (7-5, 4-4) trailed by three points with five seconds left in regulation when Marcus Nicks sank a three-pointer off a pass from John Zabel.

In overtime, the score was tied with 10 seconds left when the Vikings got possession, and this time Zabel kept the ball and drove the lane. "He hit a leaping leaner at the buzzer," Linsenmeyer said.

Kevin Steenberge was spectacular once again for River Hill (8-4, 5-3) with 30 points, 26 rebounds and eight blocked shots. "It seemed like he blocked about 15 shots," Linsenmeyer said. "He's a very good player. We had a hand in his face all night, and he was driving to the basket, making reverse layups, passing well - doing it all. He's a very polished player who is going to be a great college player. I was very impressed by him."

Mount Hebron played man-to-man defense and assigned 6-foot-1 Bobby Macheel to guard 6-10 Steenberge.

"Macheel is a pretty tough kid," Linsenmeyer said. "I wouldn't want him guarding me. He fronted Steenberge well most of the game, and we gave him help as much as we could."

When Macheel sat out most of the second quarter in foul trouble, Steenberge burst for 11 points.

River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen thought it was another tough loss for his team. "Zabel made an amazing shot to beat us, double-pumping around Kevin and banking it in. We were only 2-for-7 at the line in the fourth quarter and missed a couple front ends of one-and-ones. And we made two costly turnovers in the last minute."

River Hill shot 1-for-5 at the line in overtime and only 12-for-27 for the game.

Howard (6-6, 4-4) jumped out to a 10-point first-quarter lead on Centennial, pushed it to 18 by halftime and survived a third-quarter rally to keep the Lions charging toward the top of the standings.

Four players scored in double figures, led by DeLorean Hamilton (24 points) and Tim McNulty (17).

"We put pressure on them right from the beginning, and McNulty hit three or four threes in the first quarter," said Lions coach Greg Smith. "McNulty is becoming more and more of a factor for us and taking the pressure off Hamilton."

Howard controlled the boards, received some quality defense from its bench and continued to hit free throws, going 18-for-24 at the line.

"We're shooting better than 70 percent at the line, and that's what wins games," Smith said. "We got some crucial blocked shots and rebounding from Brandon Gregory and Paul Thompson rebounded well even though he scored only four points."

Howard plays River Hill on Wednesday, and the Lions are looking to avenge a 95-72 trouncing by the Hawks during Howard's Holiday Classic tournament.

"We were missing Hamilton and two other players during that game, so we're hoping to make it closer," Smith said.

Boys and girls together

River Hill and Long Reach will team up for a boys-girls doubleheader Friday night at River Hill.

Normally, the JV and varsity teams of the same gender play at the same location.

But this gives fans a chance to see both varsity squads at one location.

The boys will play at 5:30 p.m. and the girls at 7.

"It was the idea of our booster club president Dianne McDermott," said Hawks athletic director Don Van Deusen. "She wanted it to be a special night, and we'll have shooting contests at halftime with prizes donated by local businesses. We did this earlier in the season when we played at Long Reach."

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