River Hill in title game

Girls Basketball class 3a

River Hill 54 Urbana 44

March 10, 2006|By GLENN GRAHAM | GLENN GRAHAM,SUN REPORTER

River Hill learned a valuable lesson last year in its first state tournament appearance: It's not how you start, but how you finish.

In last night's return trip to the Class 3A semifinal, the No. 8 Hawks overcame a slow start on offense to get past Urbana, 54-44, with extra effort on defense making the difference at UMBC's RAC Arena.

Senior guard Keisha Eaddy led River Hill with 19 points and forward Kelsey Erdman, who added 15, stole the show late. The junior had two of her five steals come on consecutive Urbana possessions in the final two minutes of play - turning both into uncontested layups - to give River Hill a 48-42 lead.

The Clarksville school will take a perfect 27-0 record into its first state championship game, taking on No. 4 Western - a 64-50 winner over Gwynn Park yesterday - at 8 p.m. tomorrow.

Last season, River Hill's 15-point third-quarter lead slipped away in a 68-59 setback to eventual state champ Milford Mill in its first state semifinal appearance.

"This group is determined that they are going to fight with everything they have for 32 minutes, and that's what happened. I think [last year] helped tremendously," River Hill coach Teresa Waters said. "To be here in that setting to me that was a little bit of an edge to have and to know how they felt after last year. I know they didn't want to feel that way again."

Senior forward Cari Haas added 10 points for River Hill.

River Hill leaned on its defense in the first half to overcome a sluggish start on offense.

Shooting only 27 percent as a team with Eaddy only able to finish on two of her 15 shots from the field in the first quarter, River Hill could find comfort in trailing only 26-24 at the break.

Urbana got a three-pointer from Mills with 38 seconds left in the first quarter to take a 17-9 lead, but Erdman got a steal and layup just before the buzzer to pull River Hill within 17-11.

It would be the start of a 9-0 run that provided an 18-17 lead.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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