In Oakland Mills’ last game against Glenelg, the Scorpions let an eight-point halftime lead evaporate into a loss. Ahead by just two points at the half of Thursday afternoon's contest against Western Tech, head coach Seth Willingham had an idea.
The team stayed on the floor for the entire 10-minute intermission – running a layup line and a 4-on-4 drill to practice their offensive sets.
“The last couple of games we’ve come out in the third quarter and have been flat,” Willingham said. “So I wanted to try something different to keep them in game mode and keep them moving.
“We’re a young team with some inexperience so we’re just trying new things and see what works. We want to keep the good and try to get rid of the bad.”
The Scorpions responded to the change by pushing out to a double-digit lead in the third quarter before holding off a late rally by the Wolverines to earn a hard fought, 34-31, victory in their own holiday tournament.
Senior guard Traonna Thomas scored a game-high 10 points for Oakland Mills (5-3 overall), while sophomore guard Tori Diggs added nine.
Oakland Mills had trouble scoring in the opening half, totaling 11 points and just one in the second quarter. Luckily for them, Western Tech also struggled to add points to the scoreboard.
The ball started to fall in the third quarter, however, as the Scorpions took a 21-11 lead thanks to a 10-0 run. Karigan Awkward got thngs going with a turnaround jumper that was assisted by Fern Peters. Awkward hit another jumper, Diamond Lee added three points and Diggs had a layup during the spurt.
Diggs stretched the lead to 11 after she nailed a 3-pointer late in the third but Western Tech started to claw its way back into the contest.
With Oakland Mills leading 34-27 with 2:16 left to play, Ashley Gourdine drove to the basket for a layup. Then with just over a minute remaining, Sydney Clopton sank two free throws to bring the Wolverines within one possession at 34-31.
Lee looked to give the Scorpions some breathing room after driving to the rim for a layup but the bucket was waived off as she was called to an offensive foul. Later, with a chance again to close out the game, Oakland Mills missed two free throws, allowing the Wolverines one last chance.
Western Tech was unable to convert on its final opportunity and Awkward grabbed the rebound to run out the clock.
“This was such a tough game because both teams played really hard,” Thomas said. “A game like this is going to help us a lot in county. This team tested us and we were able to hold on. It will definitely help us when we play county teams.”
Oakland Mills will face Thomas Johnson of Frederick County on Friday at 5 p.m. in the championship game.
Oakland Mills Holiday Tournament
Oakland Mills , Western Tech
WT: Clopton 7, Tapley 6, Dixon 5, Coles 5, Gourdine 4, Dennis 2, Splieot 2.
OM (3-3, 5-3): Thomas 10, Diggs 9, Awkward 7, Lee 5, Peters 3.
Half: 11-9 OM.
WT: Coles 9.
OM: Awkward 11, Thomas 5, Thompson 4, Harris 3.
WT: Coles 2.
OM: Thomas 3, Awkward 2, Peters 2.
Wilde Lake rallies from 15 down for stunning win
When the final buzzer sounded, the collective mood of the Wilde Lake girls basketball team's was remarkably different from what it had been just an hour earlier.
The Wildecats were feeling low after trailing by 14 points at halftime of their semifinal round game against Watkins Mill on Thursday afternoon. But Wilde Lake was able to celebrate a frantic comeback as it beat the Wolverines, 43-40.
“At halftime we told them that we had to do two things — break the press and play with heart because they were really outhustling us,” Wildecats coach Caitlin Williams said.
The players followed her instructions and played with renewed sense of meaning in the second half.
Watkins Mills took a commanding lead in the second quarter thanks to its full-court press that really gave the Wilde Lake guards trouble. The Wolverines forced nine turnovers in the frame and turned them into easy fast break points. By halftime, their advantage had ballooned to 35-21.
“At halftime all we talked about was breaking the press and playing with heart,” senior captain Kourtney Harrison said. “That was all that it was going to take. Either we were or we weren’t. There was a simple line in between. Coach let us have some time to talk amongst ourselves and we really let each other know how it was.”
Watkins Mills opened the third quarter with a made free throw and pushed its lead to 15, the largest of the game. However, things soon turned in the Wildecats’ favor on both ends of the court.
Guards Rachel Lazris, Grayson Corbett and Brynn Drury solved the press and alertly passed out of the pressure to create good shots for their teammates. Then, the defense turned up its own pressure and limited the Wolverines to just three points in the quarter while forcing seven turnovers.
Watkins Mill quickly began to get into foul trouble and set Wilde Lake up in the bonus for most of the second half.
“We realized how frustrated they were and that we were getting in their heads,” forward Lindsay Williams said. “We had the mental fortitude over them, so that gave us a step forward. We were playing as a team and that was another step forward, then we were just loving the game.”
A 7-0 run that included inside buckets by Drury and Harrison, brought the Wildecats to within 38-32 entering the fourth. In the final quarter, the post duo of Harrison and Williams was too much for the Wolverines, who saw two starters foul out.
Harrison nailed a mid-ranged jumper, then Williams added a layup and made free throw to draw Wilde Lake to within one at 38-37. After a turnover and two missed shots, the Wildecats were finally able to take the lead after Corbett scored on a fast break layup.
Deja Smith got an easy layup inside to help Watkins Mill regain the lead, 40-39, with 1:15 left in regulation. Smith scored a game-high 19 points, including 15 in the second quarter, but was limited to just two buckets in the second half.
“In the first half, we were letting them control the game and we knew that had to change,” Corbett said. “We adjusted really well to (Smith). We knew that she was their shooter and we had to keep an eye on her. Knowing she was a threat, we didn’t let her get the ball and they couldn’t score.”
The Wolverines’ lead wouldn’t hold up thanks to a layup from Lazris with 25 ticks left on the clock. Smith had a chance to win the game but missed a contested layup. Lazris was fouled after grabbing the rebound and calmly sank both free throws to ice the game.
Lazris and Harrison both finished with 10 points, while Williams (12 boards) and Corbett each added nine points for Wilde Lake (2-5) overall.
“They came out and played with heart in the second half,” Caitlin Williams said. “They finally executed our press break with patience and composure, and that made the difference. There were moments there where we could have crumbled but we didn’t.”
The Wildecats will play host Springbrook in the championship Friday at 2 p.m.
Roberts Oxygen Holiday Classic
at Springbrook HS
Wilde Lake 43, Watkins Mills 40
WL (1-5, 2-5): Harrison 10, Lazris 10, Corbett 9, Williams 9, Drury 3, Babaturk 1, Bialek 1.
WM (1-6): Smith 19, Walker 12, Hall 6, Boito 2, Johnson 1.
Half: 35-21 WM.
IAABO Board 134 Christmas Tournament
at Prince George’s Community College
West Springfield 50, River Hill 38
The Hawks suffered their first loss of the season to undefeated West Springfield. Vicki Rowe scored a team-high 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for River Hill, which will play Gwynn Park in the consolation finals Friday at 4 p.m.
RH (6-0, 7-1): Rowe 11, Ju. Collins 9, Sterling 9, Je. Collins 8, Masker 1.
WS (10-0): Berglund 21, Taylor 18, Haynes 3, Backus 2, Kernelt 2, Danna 2, Shroeder 2.
Half: 17-16 WS.
Howard Holiday Tournament
Howard 55, Liberty 29
Jayda Gilmore and Jade Walls each scored 11 points to power the Lions to victory. Howard will face Blake, a 57-40 winner over Franklin, in the tournament's championship game Friday at 7 p.m.
L: Johnson 8, Wise 6, Thompson 3, Farley 3, Barcikowski 2, Cortese 2, Stolte 2.
Ho (5-1, 7-1): Gilmore 11, Walls 11, Kinsey 9, Batterton 8, Biniak 7, Hoesman 5, Benz 2, DelCoco 1.
North Carroll Holiday Hoops Tournament
North Carroll 42, Centennial 34
C (1-5, 2-6): A. Mitchell 15, Hsieh 8, Driscoll 4, Downing 3, Wilson 2, M. Anderson 2.
Lady Spartans Holiday Classic
at Laurel HS
Glenelg 41, Meade 38
Warriors Holiday Mixer
at Woodlawn HS
Randallstown 35, Long Reach 32
Lady Millers Holiday Tournament
at Milford Mill HS
Whitman 52, Mt. Hebron 33