Long Reach solves River Hill, 61-52

4-0 Lightning tops Hawks for first time in six years

Girls basketball

High Schools

December 18, 2003|By Nathan Max | Nathan Max,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

This year's Long Reach girls basketball team has a combined 18 years of varsity experience in its starting lineup and two players that have already committed to NCAA Division I programs.

Last night, the host Lightning added one more line to its growing resume: its first win over River Hill in six seasons.

Reserve sophomore guard Carlie Nethken had a team-high 14 points and 10 rebounds, and George Mason-bound senior forward Whitney Ward added 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead unbeaten and No. 9 Long Reach to a 61-52 victory over No. 13 River Hill.

No member of this Long Reach team had ever beaten the Hawks (3-1, 3-1 Howard County League), who have won three of the past four Howard County League championships. The result marked the program's third victory all-time over River Hill and the first since the end of the 1997-98 season.

River Hill coach Teresa Waters, who led the Oakland Mills program before the 1998-99 season, suffered her first career defeat to Long Reach (4-0, 4-0).

"The past doesn't matter," said Ward, who shot just 3-for-19 from the field but was 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. "We can't go back into the past. This was our big game, and ever since Saturday, we've been ready for this."

Long Reach overcame a superlative effort by Hawks junior center Brittany Gordon, who had game highs of 17 points, 22 rebounds and eight blocked shots. River Hill senior guard Ashley Thomas added 11 points, 12 rebounds and six steals, and sophomore guard LaKeisha Eaddy pitched in 14 points and four steals.

River Hill also held St. Joseph's-bound senior Timisha Gomez to eight points and seven rebounds, but junior Charlie Beasley picked up the slack with 10 points.

The game was played at a frantic pace. There were a combined 50 turnovers, and neither team shot particularly well. Long Reach finished 20-for-69 (29 percent) from the field, but compensated by converting 18 of 23 free throws (78 percent). River Hill shot 21-for-65 (32 percent) from the field and just 1-for-14 (7 percent) from behind the three-point arc.

"I think the better team won tonight," Waters said. "We just didn't deliver. We made a lot of mental mistakes. We just were not there, and they were."

Trailing 18-12 late in the first quarter, Long Reach embarked on a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to take a 28-20 lead.

In the second half, Long Reach stretched the lead to 14 on two occasions, and River Hill never trailed by fewer than nine the rest of the game.

"For us seniors, we've never beaten them before, so this is real exciting," Long Reach senior Jordan Ambrose said. "It's just incredible."

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