River Hill takes 1st title despite upset

Lions pull surprise, 77-68, but Long Reach upset, too, giving Hawks county crown

Boys basketball

High Schools

February 20, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

River Hill was upset by Howard in its last regular-season game last night, but won the county championship outright when Glenelg also upset Long Reach. The Lightning had trailed River Hill by one game.

The host Lions ended No. 12 River Hill's nine-game winning streak, 77-68.

Glenelg halted a four-game losing streak by defeating Long Reach, 64-63, when the Lightning (17-5, 13-5 league) missed two free throws with one second to play.

Howard got its upset by beating the Hawks (17-5, 14-4 league) at their own strength --rebounding.

Brandon Gregory led the Lions with 15 rebounds, seven blocked shots and 12 points. And Steve Coursey had 10 rebounds, 10 assists and seven points. Two of Gregory's rebounds late in the fourth quarter were critical, after Howard missed free throws.

"We just weren't getting second shots and that's our strength," said coach Brian Van Deusen of his Hawks, who gave up 13 more shots than they took through the first three quarters.

A season-high 23 points from junior guard Tim McNulty sparked Howard. He hit four three-pointers and was 7-for-15 from the floor.

"I've never broken 20 points before," McNulty said.

Delorean Hamilton shot 8-for-18 from the floor and scored 27 points, but that's not unusual for the Lions' leading scorer. He scored 11 of his points in the third quarter, when the Lions pulled ahead 55-44. And he scored eight in the fourth period after the Lions blew the 11-point lead.

River Hill went on a 14-2 run to go ahead 58-57 with 5:35 to play.

Unlike past games, when the Lions (12-10, 10-8) blew leads in the fourth quarter because of poor shot selection and lack of patience, this time they regained their composure. Triggered by McNulty's three-pointer, Howard went on an 8-0 run to pull ahead by 65-58.

After that, River Hill sent Howard to the foul line repeatedly, but the Lions shot well enough to preserve their lead.

"We played smart at the end," Hamilton said. "We haven't won a lot of close ones, but we've won three straight games now and hope to make a run in the playoffs. I got my rhythm in the third quarter, Brandon [Gregory] got some big boards for us and we put on a spurt."

Howard had lost twice to River Hill: by three points on Jan. 16, and by 23 in a Christmas tournament without Hamilton.

River Hill's 6-foot-10 center Kevin Steenberge, the county's leading scorer and rebounder, scored 27 points but worked hard because of Paul Thompson's strong defense.

Oakland Mills 51, Centennial 43: Needing two points to reach the 1,000-point milestone, Andre Brooks scored 22 for Oakland Mills, including 14 of 15 free-throw attempts.

The Scorpions (11-10, 10-7) clinched third place in the county.

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