The Howard County Hoops Report
Now that holiday tournaments are in the rearview mirror for teams around the area, it’s time to take stock of what is and what will be in Howard County this season. As was discussed here and here in today's print edition, teams are just now entering the heart of their conference schedules, where wins against supposedly inferior opponents are harder to come by thanks to familiarity and natural rivalries.
So let me give you a glimpse into the teams that have impressed thus far, and maybe provide a little insight into what could happen as conference play heats up in the coming weeks.
Howard County Girls Standings
Howard 7-1, 5-0
River Hill 6-1, 5-0
*Atholton 5-3, 5-1
Glenelg 6-3 4-2
Centennial 5-2, 3-2
Mount Hebron 5-4 3-3
Marriotts Ridge 4-3, 2-3
Oakland Mills 3-5, 2-3
Hammond 4-4 2-4
Reservoir 2-7, 2-4
*Long Reach 1-5 0-5
Wilde Lake 1-8, 0-6
If there is a * next to your school, it means I know I’m missing some stats, results, or both. Please have a coach/statistician email me at email@example.com, and we can get them fixed up. Also, if you notice anything wrong in this blog post concerning stats/results, please email me so I can have info that’s as accurate as possible for the coming weeks.
The record-breaking snowstorm just before the holiday break postponed what could have been the showdown of the year (in Howard County terms) between Howard and No. 18 River Hill. The Hawks had just completed a sloppy 50-42 win over rival Centennial on Dec. 18 and showed some chinks in their armor, especially in the paint where the graduation of 6-foot-4 Ryann Dannelly and 6-foot Alicia Seelaus hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Don’t think for a second, though, that River Hill isn’t a threat to take the 3A state title this year. Senior guard Shantrel Oliver has emerged as not only Howard County’s best player, but one of the top performers in the area, averaging more than 23 points per contest. She’s currently second team on The Washington Post All-Met Watch.
Howard will gets its chance at River Hill, which has won six consecutive county titles and went undefeated in league play last year, on Jan. 13. The Lions have already scored early victories over Atholton and Mount Hebron, and held their own in an eight-point loss to No. 9 Paint Branch despite scoring just three points in the second quarter.
Not many expected this quick of a start from Howard, considering forward Nyree Williams graduated and is now playing at North Carolina and guard Brandi Wingate left the school in the off-season. In their place has been the front court duo of center Alauna Jackson (12.8 ppg) and forward April Kuhn (11.8 ppg). Jackson notched a triple-double in the loss to Paint Branch, accumulating 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 blocks.
“We’re deeper than we were last year and we’re more dangerous because everyone can produce in some way,” said Howard Coach Kim Kennedy, whose team has eight different players that have scored at least six points in a game. “We always knew we were gonna be better than people thought, but then when we saw some things in practice, we thought ‘We could have a really good year.’”
Be on the lookout for Centennial and Atholton as well. The Eagles rebounded from their loss to River Hill to win both of their holiday tournament games (over Einstein and Liberty) and have some streaky shooters on the perimeter like senior Victoria Pino and junior Kayla Kelly to complement savvy senior forward Julia Benjamin. Atholton, meanwhile, has three losses already, but two of them came over the break when the team traveled to a tournament in Pennsylvania. The Raiders defeated Centennial, 45-40, back on Dec. 14.
The Honor Roll – Top Players in the County
Senior G Shantrel Oliver, River Hill (23.1 ppg)
Senior G Alex Vega, River Hill (14.4 ppg)
Senior F Julia Benjamin, Centennial (8 ppg)
Sophomore F April Kuhn, Howard (11.8 ppg)
Junior F Rachel Smith, Glenelg (12 ppg)
Senior C Alauna Jackson, Howard (12.8 ppg)
Senior C Megan Schaaf, Mount Hebron (12 ppg)
Upcoming Games to Watch
Wednesday: Mount Hebron at Atholton, 5:30
Wednesday: Glenelg at River Hill, 5:30
Friday: Howard at Glenelg, 5:30
Jan. 11 River Hill at Atholton, 5:30
Jan. 13 Howard at River Hill, 5:30
Jan. 15 Centennial at Howard, 5:30
Howard County Boys' Standings
Oakland Mills 7-3, 5-1
River Hill 6-2, 4-1
Atholton 5-4, 4-2
Hammond 6-3, 4-2
Wilde Lake 4-4, 4-2
Reservoir 5-3, 3-3
*Centennial 3-4, 2-3
*Glenelg 3-5, 2-4
*Howard 2-4, 2-3
*Long Reach 2-6, 2-4
Mount Hebron 4-5, 2-4
*Marriotts Ridge 0-7, 0-6
If there is a * next to your school, it means I know I’m missing some stats, results, or both. Please have a coach/statistician email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can get them fixed up. Also, if you notice anything wrong in this blog post concerning stats/results, please email me so I can have info that’s as accurate as possible for the coming weeks
If December proved anything, it’s that parity will be the norm for Howard County when it comes to boys’ basketball this season. Take the top of the standings, for instance. Led by 5-foot-9 guard Varun Ram (15 ppg), River Hill scored an impressive early season out-of-conference victory over previously ranked Eleanor Roosevelt, the next week struggled to defeat winless Marriotts Ridge by five points, five days later lost its only game of the season to Hammond, but then handled a Centennial team, 60-44, that earlier this season gave Oakland Mills its only conference loss of the year.
Speaking of the Scorpions, they beat Hammond by two points in an early season match-up, followed that up with two consecutive losses: a one-point defeat to Woodlawn and a three-point loss to Centennial. But after Monday night’s 69-57 win over Long Reach, Oakland Mills is now in the midst of a six-game winning streak that has included wins over Atholton and Anne Arundel contenders Glen Burnie and North County.
Oakland Mills small forward Evan Hopkins is averaging more than 17 points per game right now — the highest clip in the county by my statistics — including a 22-point performance Monday night.
After starting the season with three straight losses by a combined four points, Hammond also sports a six-game win streak with wins over Wilde Lake, River Hill, Atholton, and Reservoir. Senior forward Brandon Bjerre, who missed all of last season with a back injury, has been a revelation, averaging more than 19 points a contest during this recent run.
The Honor Roll – Top Players in the County
Senior G Varun Ram, River Hill (15.14 ppg)
Senior G Connor Cortes, Atholton (14.57 ppg)
Senior G Mike McCarthy, Mount Hebron (14.7 ppg)
Senior F Dennis Williams, Wilde Lake (15 ppg)
Senior F Evan Hopkins, Oakland Mills (17.1 ppg)
Senior F Brandon Bjerre, Hammond (16.33 ppg)
Senior F Shane Reybold, Reservoir (15 ppg)
Upcoming Games to Watch
Wednesday: Oakland Mills at Wilde Lake, 5:30
Friday: Wilde Lake at River Hill, 5:30
Friday: Reservoir at Atholton, 5:30
Jan. 11: Atholton at River Hill, 5:30
Jan. 13: Atholton at Hammond, 5:30
That's all I got for now, keep checking Preps Post Maryland for the latest updates on everything Howard County basketball related. I'll have more as the season progresses and like I mentioned above, if something that you read doesn't appear accurate please email me at email@example.com so that the issue doesn't persist the rest of the year.
January 5, 2010; 2:13 PM ET
Categories: Atholton , Boys' basketball , Centennial , Girls basketball , Glenelg , Hammond , Howard , Howard County , Long Reach , Marriotts Ridge , Mount Hebron , Oakland Mills , Old Mill , Reservoir , Wilde Lake
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