Girls’ basketball: South River rallies behind Niya Young, knocks off Severna Park

Niya Young crumpled to the floor, grabbing her ankle with a feeling of deja vu.

After scoring all of South River’s nine first-quarter points and orchestrating its offense for the majority of the game Friday night, the junior point guard rolled her ankle with six minutes remaining in a key Anne Arundel County matchup against Severna Park. She suffered a similar injury late last season that forced her to miss the county championship game.

Young limped off the floor and took a seat on the trainer’s table, then watched her teammates rally. Leah Smith and the rest of the Seahawks stood tough down the stretch, sealing South River’s 39-27 win over the Falcons on senior night.

With the win, the Seahawks (15-3, 11-1 Anne Arundel) moved to within one game of Old Mill in the county standings. They also avenged a 59-46 loss to Severna Park on Dec. 19, which was their first county defeat since January of 2012.

“For them to break our streak after so long of not losing in the county, we just wanted it more,” Young said. “That’s all it was. We just wanted it more.”

Young finished with a game-high 13 points, slicing through Severna Park’s defense for several acrobatic finishes. After she left the game, Smith stepped in and scored six points to help the Seahawks hold on.

“[Young] is like my family. And when your family member goes down, you feel it too,” Smith said. “So when she got hurt, I just felt my drive get a lot stronger.”

Three days after surrendering 78 points in a blowout loss to Riverdale Baptist, the Seahawks ended the Falcons’ six-game winning streak and held them to a season-low. South River has now held each of its past eight county opponents to 40 points or fewer.

The Seahawks are typically quick and aggressive on the defensive end, but they were particularly successful against Severna Park (14-4, 10-2) because they made adjustments. After frequently pressing in their first meeting, Coach Mike Zivic opted for a half-court zone and controlled pressure.

“Playing them earlier, it was definitely eye-opening,” he said. “We were doing a lot more press, and they got a couple easy baskets over the top. So tonight we just said, ‘Hey, here’s half court. Meet us at half court.’ ”

South River also dominated the boards, led by Kobe Chaney (12 rebounds) and Taylor Smith (seven). Rachel VanderKolk led Severna Park with 11 points.

The win all but guarantees the defending county champion Seahawks a return to the title game. This year, Young hopes her ankle holds up well enough to allow her to play.

“Nobody wanted that game more than us,” she said, her ankle still taped with ice. “And I don’t know who wanted that game more than me.”

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