Smaller, quicker River Hill boxes up Long Reach, 59-47

Hawks hold Smelkinson to 9

Lightning loses first

Boys basketball

High Schools

December 18, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

River Hill gave up 24 second-chance points in a boys basketball loss to Atholton last Friday. So the Hawks spent practice time this week focusing on boxing out - keeping opponents away from rebounds.

That focus paid off yesterday with a 59-47 victory over previously unbeaten Long Reach yesterday at River Hill.

Both teams are now 3-1 overall and in Howard County league play. Long Reach lost at River Hill for the third straight season.

The Lightning was significantly taller than River Hill, but the Hawks used superior quickness to create 14 first-half turnovers, launch fast breaks and split defenders in their motion offense. And smaller River Hill also kept pace with Long Reach in the rebounding department.

Hawks point guard Richie Jackson (14 points) prevented Long Reach point guard Mike Smelkinson (nine points) from penetrating and feeding teammates. With the help of frequent double-teams, the Hawks created a tense defensive atmosphere that led to a 1-for-13 shooting performance by Smelkinson, a two-time All-County player who usually sinks a few three-pointers per game and was averaging 17 points.

Instead, Long Reach didn't make a three-pointer all night, and River Hill's double-teams on the low post made the Lightning work hard for every shot.

River Hill, with four players averaging in double figures, also benefited from a stellar performance by Rogers Barnes (18 points), who hit two first-quarter three-pointers, played excellent defense, rebounded and passed well.

"We're one of the fastest teams in the county and used that to our advantage to get out and run," said Barnes. "A lot of credit goes to Richie [Jackson] for stopping Smelkinson."

Barnes, who became a starter midway through last season, scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Hawks pulled out to a 17-13 lead.

Long Reach never led in the final three quarters, as River Hill maintained control, helped by 6-foot-2 freshman Greg Nowak, a first-time starter.

Long Reach pulled within six points, at 48-42, with four minutes to play, but the Hawks clinched the victory with an 8-0 run.

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