River Hill rallies, cools off Howard

Down 14 in 2nd quarter, Hawks prevail, 67-64, tie for top spot in league

Boys basketball

High Schools

January 17, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

River Hill's boys basketball team proved three things last night: that it could come from behind to win; that it could win in a close finish; and that it's not just a one-man team.

The Hawks defeated visiting Howard, one of the hottest teams in the county, 67-64, overcoming a 14-point second-quarter deficit.

The victory allowed the Hawks (9-4 overall, 6-3 league) to climb into a first-place tie with Long Reach, a 53-52 loser to Glenelg last night. River Hill plays host to Long Reach tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.

Howard (6-7, 4-5), winner of three straight, was determined to erase memories of a 95-72 trouncing by River Hill in the Howard Holiday Classic in December.

FOR THE RECORD - In yesterday's editions, it was incorrectly reported that Long Reach defeated Glenelg, 53-52, in a boys basketball game Wednesday. That score actually was for a girls game. Long Reach's boys team leads the county basketball standings by one game. The Sun regrets the error.

The Lions out-hustled River Hill in the first half and dominated the second quarter by shooting 10-for-20 from the field and outscoring the Hawks 20-13. They led 35-25 at halftime.

Brandon Gregory (22 points, 11 rebounds) led Howard's strong first half by scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

"We came out flat, weren't passing well, I was not rebounding and we were not running our offense," said Hawks center Kevin Steenberge, who started slowly but finished strongly with 21 points and 14 rebounds. "Howard has really turned it around since the tournament. They are athletic, have shooters and can bang it around."

Howard center Paul Thompson (11 points) played a strong defensive game against Steenberge and stayed out of foul trouble.

But Howard's Tim McNulty, who has been hot from outside lately, drew his fourth foul two minutes into the third period and sat out the rest of that quarter.

"That hurt us because it took away our outside game," said Howard coach Greg Smith. "They were able to key on [Delorean] Hamilton [16 points], who played a solid game but had to work harder."

River Hill, whose only two previous close games were two-point losses to Mount Hebron and Centennial, cut the lead to 47-41 by the end of that period.

Then Matt Hostetler (18 points), who played his best game of the season, sparked the Hawks with 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a three-point basket and a three-point play back-to-back to cut Howard's lead to 50-49.

Steenberge hit two key baskets and made an assist in the final minute, and Ivan Abrams made two clutch free throws with 15 seconds left to earn the win.

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