Howard drops No. 5 Long Reach for share of first in HoCo girls’ hoops; Addison scores 23 (VIDEO HERE!!)

by Donald Daniels

After a resounding loss to Long Reach High last month, Howard girls’ basketball team knew it would have to put together a vastly improved effort in the rematch. The Lions did just that Tuesday and another league championship is within their grasp.

No. 6 Howard defeated the fifth-ranked Lightning, 69-57, in a Howard County match in Columbia. Senior forward Taylor Addison posted 23 points for the Lions, and Deonna Jones and Marisa Sanchez-Henry each finished with 10.

The Ellicott City school gained control in the third quarter, winning its 12th straight decision since a 70-51 home loss to Long Reach. Howard (20-1 overall, 13-1 Howard) can clinch at least a share of the HoCo crown with a victory over Centennial.

Another win would mean the top overall seed in the Class 4A North Region, which features defending state champ Catonsville and two-time reigning Baltimore City champ and 2016 state finalist Western.

“We are in a very tough region, so getting home court would be huge for us,” Howard coach Scott Robinson said. “Also being county champions for the third straight year is huge for us.”

Leading 29-27 at halftime, Howard went on a 19-7 run, sparked by eight straight points from Madison Burris. Addison added 11 points in the frame, attacking Long Reach in the paint.

“We were just mentally tougher tonight, Long Reach is a great team, but we’re a great team as well,” Addison said. “Last time we tried hard, but we really weren’t working hard on every possession and tonight our energy and our hustle carried us to this win.”

The Lions established an early 8-0 advantage before Long Reach seized an 18-14 lead. The second quarter featured five lead changes, the last a Camille Malagar contested layup, giving Howard a two-point halftime advantage.

The momentum carried into the third quarter as Howard advanced the lead into double-digits. The Lightning made a brief run early in the fourth quarter, but was unable to get no closer than eight points as Howard’s ball movement and ability to get everyone involved was on full display.

Over the final eight minutes, five different players scored for Lions, who hit a combine eight of 10 free throws.

“We told them that whole key was to stop Long Reach in transition,” Robinson said. “They get out a run and I thought our girls did a great job in transition defense. They have tremendous shooters so we had to shut them down.”

Lyric Swann led Long Reach (14-2, 13-1 Howard) with 19 points, and Arianna Briggs-Hall and Bethune-Cookman University-bound guard Kiana Williams each finished with 11. Despite the loss, the Lightning are still on pace to capture their first league crown.

They can win it outright with victories over Atholton and Marriotts Ridge and a Howard loss to Centennial. Long Reach can get a share with wins against Atholton and Marriotts Ridge and a Howard victory.

“Every time you step on the floor, you want to win, so we aren’t happy with a loss. But we also can’t lose sight of the fact that this season has been and continues to be historic,” Long Reach coach Kelli Cofield said. “To still be in a position to win a county championship is awesome and we just talked about how we aren’t going to let a loss take away the great things that we’ve done and the great things we will continue to do. I still like the position that we are in.”

No. 6 Howard 69, No. 5 Long Reach 57

Howard – Sanchez-Henry 10, Furr 8, Jones 10, Malager 7, Burris 8, Addison 23. Totals 25 14-19 69.

Long Reach – Williams 11, L. Swann 19, J, Swann 9, Briggs-Hall 11, Streeter 7. Totals 22 3-6 57.

Howard 14 15 21 19 – 69

Long Reach 18 9 12 18 – 57