Mount Hebron nips Riv. Hill on late shot

Carper basket, foul shot give Vikings 51-49 win, tie for country title

Girls basketball

High schools

February 15, 2002|By Nathan Max | Nathan Max,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With time running out and No. 6 Mount Hebron trailing by one point in last night's crucial Howard County league game against No. 9 River Hill, there was little doubt whom the Vikings would look to for the game-winning basket.

But after junior forward Kristen Waagbo missed, senior guard Laura Carper grabbed the rebound and hit a near-impossible, off-balance, put-back from 8 feet away in the middle of the paint as she was fouled with 5.3 seconds remaining. Carper converted the three-point play, and River Hill sophomore guard Ashley Thomas missed a 21-foot three-pointer attempt on the other end to give the host Vikings a thrilling, come-from-behind 51-49 victory before an enthusiastic crowd in Ellicott City.

"Everyone crashed and went for the ball, and I was just waiting behind," said Carper, who finished with 14 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals. "Everyone wanted that last shot, I was just the one that happened to get it. I knew I had to go up strong and try to get it in there, and I did."

The result broke a first-place tie between the two schools, and coupled with Howard's stunning 41-36 upset of No. 10 Centennial, it clinched at least a share of the county title for Mount Hebron. The Vikings (17-4, 14-3 league) are county champions for the first time since 1993 and can win the league outright with a victory on Tuesday over Wilde Lake (8-13, 6-11).

River Hill (14-7, 13-4), which had its nine-game winning streak snapped, still has an outside shot at tying Mount Hebron, but the Hawks must defeat giant-killer Howard (4-17, 4-13) and hope for a Wilde Lake upset over Mount Hebron. Third-place Centennial (14-6, 12-4) is also still alive for sharing the title, but the Eagles need to defeat Oakland Mills (3-17, 1-15) and No. 13 Hammond (14-6, 11-5) and hope for a Wilde Lake victory over Mount Hebron.

"Over there, it's not going to be easy," said Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson, whose team has won 12 of its last 14 games. "When we played them here, it was very tight. I want [the girls] to savor this, and tomorrow total focus will be on Wilde Lake."

For Mount Hebron, Waagbo scored a game-high 19 points, and had six rebounds, four assists, one steal and a blocked shot. As a team, the Vikings shot 45 percent (20-for-44) from the field, compared to 27 percent (16-for-60) for River Hill.

Three players scored in double figures for the Hawks, led by Thomas who scored eight of the Hawks' nine points in the fourth quarter, including 4-for-4 from the line in one-and-one situations. Thomas finished with a team-high 14 points, junior guard Laura Hostetler had 12 points and nine rebounds, and freshman center Brittany Gordon added 11 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.

After Mount Hebron raced to a quick 7-0 lead, River Hill quickly turned the game in its favor with a 29-11 run over the next 11 minutes. River Hill led by as many as 12 on two occasions in the third quarter, the last of which came after a transition layup by junior guard Meredith Brooks that put the Hawks ahead 38-26 with 4:43 to play. From there, however, River Hill made just two more shots from the field over the final 12:42.

Neither team led by more than three points throughout the fourth quarter, and the Hawks regained the lead, 49-48, on two free throws by Thomas with 3:17 to play. Thomas, who was 6-for-8 from the line in the fourth quarter, had a chance to put River Hill up by three but missed two free throws with 18.9 seconds remaining.

"She was definitely in the right place at the right time," Waagbo said about Carper.

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