The battle for the Howard County girls’ basketball championship will come down to two games this week between three teams within striking distance of the county’s top spot.
River Hill, Howard and Reservoir all enter the regular season’s final week with a shot at the county championship. That slate of games begins Tuesday night when Reservoir (15-2, 15-2 in the county) takes on Howard (18-2, 15-2) on the road. The game is a rematch of the Gators’ most recent loss, at home Jan. 4 against the Lions. Since then, Reservoir has won nine games, eight by double figures. Howard enters the game on a nine-game win streak of its own, seven of which have come by at least 10 points.
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“Our last two seasons have ended in playoff losses at Howard,” Reservoir Coach Kyle Sullivan said. “So we know either way, pretty much every year the roads to winning championships lead through Howard. If they want to win, they’ve got to beat the best.”
The county’s second deciding game of the week will come Thursday, when Howard plays at River Hill in the regular season finale for both teams. The Hawks, who currently sit atop the county standings, won the previous meeting between the two teams Jan. 7 and haven’t lost since a 49-24 defeat at Reservoir Jan. 11.
Both Howard and River Hill control their own destinies as they relate to the county championship. Both the Lions and the Hawks would claim the county title if they’re able to win both of their games this week.
For Reservoir to win the county, the Gators would have to beat Howard Tuesday night, then turn around and cheer for the Lions to beat River Hill Thursday, dropping the Hawks into a first-place tie with Reservoir. The Gators hold the tiebreaker over River Hill by virtue of their 49-24 victory in the only regular season meeting between the two.
“It’s funny because, on the flip side, we’ve got to beat them and then we need them to help us on Thursday,” Sullivan said. “The last week of the season is pretty crazy. A lot of things could go a lot of different ways, and we won’t know who’s county champs until probably the last night after the last game.”