Hawks' Hostetler plays to win

Girls basketball: Fueled by her competitive nature, guard Laura Hostetler has guided River Hill to an 11-2 mark and No. 2 ranking.

High Schools

January 24, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Laura Hostetler's opponents are learning what her River Hill girls basketball teammates already know: She hates to lose.

Hostetler never shied away from an opportunity to defend two-time Howard County Player of the Year and former Hawks teammate Greeba Outen Barlow in practice.

She screamed in frustration in the school parking lot after River Hill dropped a Class 3A East region playoff game to a Prince George's County team for the third straight year.

And she's been known to talk a little smack to opponents as they toe the free-throw line.

"Sometimes people perceive it as being negative or nasty when, in fact, all she is is competitive," said Hawks coach Teresa Waters. "She's not really mean. She's just a fierce competitor."

How fierce? During her freshman year on the varsity squad, Hostetler, suffering with the flu and a 104-degree temperature, called Waters at school and tearfully apologized for being the first player to miss practice that season.

"She's always been good, but each year she got better and better," Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson said. "I think she could play college basketball."

Hostetler's reputation as an aggressive player is well-known. She has played part of this season with a taped nose after catching elbows to the face twice and regularly plays against boys in pickup games.

Hostetler attributes much of her competitive spirit to her family. Her father, Doug, was a quarterback and linebacker at Penn State, and her uncle, Jeff, guided the New York Giants to victory in Super Bowl XXV. Her older brother, Matt, was a two-time All-Howard County quarterback for the Hawks who just finished his first season at Brown.

She also has two younger brothers, and when sports is on the table, bragging rights are on the line.

"I didn't want to be the one to lose because it was boys against girls," she said. "I guess that comes into play, and my dad has always been pushing me to work hard. I just love winning."

Her thirst has been quenched at River Hill, which is 74-13 since her freshman season.

No. 2 River Hill is 9-0 in the county and 11-2 overall, and the senior shooting guard is the engine that drives the Hawks. She leads the team in scoring (18.6 points), rebounds (9.0) and assists (4.6).

Last season, Hostetler registered 15.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game en route to her first appearance on the All-County team.

"I think I probably had 80 points as a freshman," she recalled. "It's just awesome to see my work ethic pay off."

Four years ago, Hostetler was a member of the program's Fab Five - a group that included Megan Buescher, Jen Green, Allison Kupec and Fana Walcott.

Walcott moved to Georgia in 2001, and Green stopped playing basketball after her sophomore season, but the remaining three have stuck together. Buescher said she has admired Hostetler's commitment.

"I think she's worked the hardest out of everyone on the team to get to the point where she is," Buescher said. "She's in here an hour before every practice and stays after every practice to shoot. She's really dedicated."

But Hostetler is a returning All-County player in lacrosse who had 63 goals and 30 assists last spring and will play that sport at George Washington.

Waters and assistant Taylor Walls believe Hostetler could play Division I basketball, but Hostetler said she intends to stick with the sport for which she was recruited.

Her more immediate goals are bringing a county championship back to River Hill for the third time in four years and helping the Hawks break a string of four consecutive losses to Prince George's County schools in the playoffs.

"There's no greater feeling than beating someone that's better than you," Hostetler said. "It's a reoccurring thing that I just want to get rid of."

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