This time, River Hill finds perfect ending

Eaddy, Haas come up big down stretch to foil Western in final

Class 3A Girls basketball

River Hill 51 Western 46

high schools

March 12, 2006|By GLENN GRAHAM | GLENN GRAHAM,SUN REPORTER

The Class 3A state girls basketball title game between No. 4 Western and No. 8 River Hill spent three-plus quarters looking for a hero. It ended up finding two last night at UMBC's RAC Arena.

River Hill All-Metro senior guard Keisha Eaddy provided key steals and layups, and fellow senior forward Cari Haas found timely aim from everywhere when it was needed the most.

The two combined to score all 17 of the River Hill's points in the final 4:28, helping the Hawks to their first state title with a 51-46 win over Western that completed a perfect season with a 28-0 mark.

As Eaddy stepped up to foul line with eight seconds left and the game in hand, eight-year coach Teresa Waters held up a celebratory fist to her senior standout. Shortly after, she did the same to Haas, who was close to tears at the other end of the floor.

After taking an undefeated record into the state tournament last season - their first appearance - the Hawks fell short of their ultimate goal in the semifinal round. Eaddy and Haas made sure it wouldn't happen again.

"This means a lot. In all four of my years we haven't been able to get this far and win a state championship. So for us to pull this off - it's going to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life," Eaddy said.

The Doves, two-time state winners who finished with a 25-2 mark, stayed close despite having their top scorer, Zhondria Benn, in foul trouble from the first quarter.

She played 13 minutes and scored nine points - three coming in the final minutes.

"It wasn't a huge factor for us. We were still able to maintain a very good tempo and were pretty fluid at both ends with her on the bench," Western first-year coach Tiffany Silver said. "We've been in these positions before a couple times when she was on the bench and we were able to prosper through that."

But it was the Hawks who prospered in the final minutes to take control of a close game.

Trailing 39-34 with 4:28 left, Eaddy found Haas inside for an easy layup and the rest of the game belonged to the two.

A steal and layup came from Eaddy; then a jumper, a three-pointer and two free throws came from Haas - giving the Hawks a 45-41 lead with 1:44 left that they would not relinquish.

"It was a close game and I knew it was going to take every one of us to pull it out. Once I hit my first one that gave me confidence, but it wasn't just me - it was everybody," said Haas, who scored 13 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter. "We came back with experience. We were all really nervous, but we knew what we had to do. We knew they had two 6-foot-2 players [seniors Benn and Nikki Matthews] and we didn't get away from our strategy."

Despite Benn spending much of the first half on the bench with foul trouble, the Doves were able to take a 24-21 lead at the half.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

RH-Eaddy 20, Erdman 4, Haas 15, Sims 6, Geoghan 2, Seelaus 4. Totals: 20 12-19 51. W-Benn 9, Matthews 4, Woods 2, Richards 13, Dennis 7, Brewer 9, Minor 2. Totals: 22 3-10 46.Half: W, 24-21.

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