Having already won a Maryland 3A state championship a year ago as a wide receiver for River Hill, Hawks senior Walt Moody decided that this year was going to be all about basketball. Moody left the football field, sacrificing his spot on the Hawks’ 2012 championship team, to spend his off-season hours in the gym getting ready for basketball season.
The work has paid off for Moody, who leads Howard County in scoring by averaging nearly 22 points per game this season. The Hawks (13-2, 11-1) have been successful, but Moody said the decision to skip football has come with its share of regrets. Being in the stands on Friday nights instead of on the sideline was tough, he said, as was the Hawks’ 53-41 loss to No. 17 Oakland Mills back in December.
“That Oakland Mills game, I was like wow, maybe it didn’t make a difference, not playing football this year. But after the game, I was like no, there’s a reason I didn’t play football,” said Moody, who scored just seven points in the loss. “The bus ride home, I don’t think anyone spoke a word. The next couple days, that’s when everybody started playing. Practices got real intense. It was a wake-up call.”
“It was a big game,” River Hill Coach Matt Graves said. “(Moody) wanted to show his colors and just didn’t have the game he wanted to have. I think he did too much for himself, not selfishly, but just trying to overdo it. Most of our team came out of the gate so amped up and so ready to play that the adrenaline wore them out before halftime even kicked in.”
Those intense practices have translated into impressive performances in games for the Hawks, who have ripped off 11 straight wins entering Monday’s rescheduled game against Marriotts Ridge. Moody, the Hawks’ only senior starter, has been dominant during River Hill’s winning streak, scoring 21 points or more in nine of the 11 wins. Sophomore Charlie Thomas IV, the Hawks’s second leading scorer, has been dominant as well during the streak, scoring in double figures in all but one game.
Moody and the Hawks will get a second crack at the Scorpions on Wednesday, this time on their home court. Graves and Moody both said that their team will be much better prepared this time around, mentally focused and flush with confidence from their win streak. Staying motivated, Moody said, has not been an issue.
“We know they’re the best, and we feel we’re capable of beating them,” Moody said. “Every time, when it’s the end of practice and we’re running, all Graves has to do is mention Oakland Mills and then basically we’re [ticked] off, we want to work harder. He knows we’re so frustrated by how bad we played the first time that we won’t let that happen again, especially at home.”