STEPPING STONE: Hebrew Academy first year girls basketball coach Rita J. Williams admits to being a sports addict. She has combined her infectious enthusiasm with some tenacious defense to breathe new life into the program at the small private school in Silver Spring. Led by juniors Michele Gorlin, Bernice Weigert and Jessica Pancer, the Cougars have a 9-4 record, by far their best in years.

"I'm a defensive coach and you win games with defense," said Williams, who has been a successful AAU boys coach and last year was an assistant girls coach at Archbishop Carroll.

Although Williams says she is very happy coaching girls, she would be ecstatic to follow in the footsteps of Ballou's Wanda Oates and Oxon Hill's Pat Harris and coach a boys team.

"I enjoyed coaching boys -- they can adjust to the yelling quicker," said Williams, whose son, Michael, is the starting point guard at Sherwood. "Seven of the 11 boys I coached on one of my AAU championship teams are starters on area varsity teams and the other four are starters on jayvees. I'm pretty proud of that." LONG TIME COMING: Old Mill's 13-0, second-period run paved the way for a dramatic 68-62 victory over previously unbeaten Annapolis. The win was Old Mill's first over the Running Panthers since 1976. . . . Oakland Mills's girls upset Howard County's most successful team ever, Mount Hebron, 43-42, last week. It was the first time in seven years Oakland Mills's coach, Teresa Waters, had beaten Mount Hebron. . . . Arundel's girls, who had never had a winning season in the school's 15-year history, are off to a 10-4 start. Four returning starters along with Donna Parker (11 points, 11 rebounds), a transfer from New Jersey, are responsible for the turnabout. . . . Lee's boys defeated Langley, 49-46, to win their first game of the year (1-11). Rockville, 0-10 a week ago, defeated both Wootton and Wheaton. INGE TO THE RESCUE: Throughout December, Paint Branch Coach Hank Gallotta has looked to guards Barry Friedman and Riley Inge for the crucial points. Friedman broke his thumb on his shooting hand recently, and Gallotta didn't have to say anything to 6-foot-2 junior Inge. Considered by many to be the best player in Montgomery County, Inge turned up his game a notch and the Panthers have continued their winning ways.

Inge had a big game against rival Springbrook as Paint Branch (11-1) avenged its lone loss of the year with a 73-63 win last week.

Friedman is expected back in early February. Until then, Inge has to carry the load. And so far, he is doing just that. HOT AND NOT: Top-ranked DeMatha has won its last four games by an average of 36 points in running its record to 15-0. . . . Since losing its third straight game to Baltimore's Dunbar this season, D.C.'s Dunbar has taken dead aim on a third straight Interhigh League title with seven wins over league foes by an average of 24 points. . . . Blair, a woeful 1-20 four years ago, raised its record to 13-0. . . .