Freshman forward Katie Haley's rebound and layup with three seconds left did more than give Richard Montgomery's girls basketball team a hard-fought 49-47 victory over visiting No. 18 Watkins Mill last night. It also gave the Rockets the inside track for their second straight Montgomery County Division III title.

The win places the Rockets two games ahead of the Wolverines in the standings. Richard Montgomery (14-3 overall, 10-0 in the division) can clinch the championship with a victory in either of its next two games. Watkins Mill dropped to 15-2, 8-2. The Wolverines' first loss was a 49-37 decision to the Rockets on Dec. 20.

The Rockets set up the winning shot with 29 seconds left when Richard Montgomery guard Tori Moten's foul shot bounced off the back of the rim and the rebound was tied up for a held ball. Richard Montgomery kept possession and called a timeout.

"We wanted to take the last shot," Coach Watson Prather said. "At 10 seconds we were going for the shot. We hoped if we didn't get the shot we could get the rebound and maybe get fouled in the process."

The Rockets worked the perimeter and Moten held the ball with 10 seconds left. After checking the clock, she attempted a 23-footer that was short. The 5-foot-9 Haley (team-high 17 points, 11 rebounds) grabbed the rebound and put it back in with three seconds left.

Watkins Mill Coach Peter Baron begged his players to ask for a timeout, but they neither saw him nor heard him in the noisy gym.

The Wolverines trailed by 39-27 after three quarters but went on a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to 41-40 with 3:05 left. Ameka Wright (12 points) tied the game at 47 when she calmly made an 18-footer from the baseline with 46 seconds remaining.

Watkins Mill had climbed back into the game as its full-court press forced six fourth-quarter turnovers.

"We had to do something," Baron said. "They were doing a good job controlling the clock and waiting for the perfect shot."

The Rockets stretched a 26-23 lead with an 11-0 run over 5:29. At one point in the period, Watkins Mill missed 13 straight shots.

Watkins Mill freshman guard Lisa Ostrom led all scorers with 23 points. The Wolverines played without leading rebounder and shot-blocker Shani Dinwiddie (10.0 rebounds per game), who was out with the flu.