Having reeled off six straight wins, including a decisive 50-24 conquest of Edgewood a day earlier, the North Harford girls basketball team hit a brick wall on Thursday evening in Pylesville.
Rising Sun proved to be that unyielding on the defensive end, holding the Hawks to a meager 15 points through the first three quarters of the key Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic League encounter on the way to a 48-30 triumph to remain unbeaten this season.
While North Harford (8-2) did finally find its footing in the final period, outscoring the Cecil County contingent, 16-6, over the final eight minutes, the Tigers (10-0) had all but wrapped up the win by that point.
Senior guard Sarah Clark netted 16 of her game-high 18 points in the first half for Rising Sun, which produced a 21-5 run before entering the intermission with a comfortable 31-11 advantage.
Whether the Hawks were at least partially done in by the fatigue of playing back-to-back games, there’s no doubt that even a well-rested squad would have had difficulty keeping up with the way the Tigers played.
They never stopped moving on offense, cutting and weaving their way for some easy buckets while aided by some clever interior passing.
And a diamond press defense that drifted into a well-disguised 2-3 zone was more than enough to stifle the Hawks’ shooters until they surged to finish the final period by outscoring the Tigers, 16-6, with Caroline Nicholson notching six of her team-high 10 points.
”They schooled us in the first three quarters,” said North Harford coach Wayne Huller, whose team was without point guard Jenna Amrhein. “They beat us at our own game. Their ball movement — and moving without the ball — was great. They’re really well coached, but we showed no quit and showed what we could do in the fourth quarter.”
Rising Sun coach Kathy Stoudt said that she and her troops were prepared for a closer game that never materialized.
”We have some athletes, so we can move the ball up the floor,” she said. “We move the ball well and can negate our lack of size with speed. And we’ve been playing together for a long time.”
Although two of her best athletes — Virginia Tech softball commit Jordan Lynch and Delaware soccer commit Laynee Eyman — don’t play basketball outside the season, the team benefits greatly from their presence.
Lynch, who scored 10 points against North Harford, leads the Tigers in scoring (14 points per game), shooting (38 percent), rebounds (10.4) and steals (7) this season.
Junior Allison Stoudt averages four assists per game for a team that is constantly looking for the best shot, making the Tigers difficult to defend.
Clark said that with the teams a combined 17-1 entering the fray, expectations for a competitive battle were high — until Rising Sun rose to the occasion.
”We came to play,” she said. “When we started to hit our shots, we really gained momentum. We’re a well-rounded team. If someone is having an off-night, somebody else fills in (the void).”
RISING SUN 48, NORTH HARFORD 30
RS 12 19 11 6 — 48
NH 6 5 3 16 — 30
Rising Sun-Sarah Clark 18, Jordan Lynch 10, Allison Stoudt 9, Izzy Covcert 5, Kendra Watters 4, Jillian Ragan 2. Totals 19 6-8 48.
North Harford-Caroline Nicholson 10, Lillian Duffy 7, Payton Dawson 7, Marissa Struhar 4, Payton Dinbokowitz 2. Totals 14 2-9 30.