Loch Raven coach Bill Toole envisions a game in which he can employ as many reserves as possible, all the better to evaluate the Raiders' improving roster.
"I would like to get a 20-or-30 point lead and play everybody on the team," Toole said earlier in the season.
His wish was finally fulfilled in Raiders' fifth game when they thumped host Eastern Tech, 59-39, Dec. 17 in Essex.
However, in three of its four previous contests, Loch Raven played into overtime.
And all that extra basketball has Toole worn out.
"I can't recall in my high school career having any overtime games," said Toole, who played at Bay High in Ohio and later at Kent State University. "I hope we don't have anymore overtime games."
The first two overtime games had positive endings when the Raiders beat Cristo Rey, 75-65, Dec. 10 behind guard senior guard Jordan Johnson's 22 points.
Two days later, Loch Raven edged neighborhood rival Parkville, 67-66, thanks to the performance of junior guard Greg Franklin, who totaled 25 points and 16 rebounds.
Earlier, a 10-point season-opening victory over Franklin preceded a win over Towson.
The Raiders' lone loss was an 81-79 double-overtime loss to at Dulaney on Dec. 14.
"The goal is to be competitive against the best," Toole said. "The Dulaney game is the one we played our best. We lost by a lot to Dulaney last year. We lost by about 26."
Toole, who coached Loch Raven's junior varsity last season and took over the varsity for former Calvert Hall and Boston College standout Doug Able, said the overtime games are helping his team grow.
"It shows you that every possession matters," he said. "That's what I have been trying to teach the kids. I can see us, at times, breaking down and not treating like every possession matters."
The Raiders are even playing well enough to overcome some costly mistakes that in years past would have sent them into a tailspin.
This team is different, according to Dulaney coach Matt Lochte.
"I have been coaching in Baltimore County for 14 years, and if it's not the best Loch Raven team I have seen, it's one of the best," Lochte said. "They are going to win a ton of games. They are athletic and go eight-deep. We struggled defending them in transition."
Loch Raven's speed in a guard-oriented lineup frustrates opponents. Franklin (averages 19 points per game) and Johnson (16.4) rank as the team's top scorers.
Senior guards Elliot Wiley, Anton Wiggins and Vasil Sidou and junior guard Marqus Logan also play key roles.
"We are not going to get a shot up every seven seconds," Toole said. "But I like to run and get the kids out on a fastbreak. I watched the (Los Angeles) Lakers growing up, and they played a fun, fastbreak type of basketball."
Toole loves talking about his guards and senior forwards Drew Wagner and Chris Simon.
But the coach has been especially impressed with the 5-foot-10 Franklin.
"Franklin is a guy who really has stepped up," Toole said. "He is a guy who kind of came into this season on a mission. He really competes and plays hard. He was a varsity player who never played as a sophomore. Then, he got cut last year."
Loch Raven assistant coach Kirk Fairfield warns rivals not to take the Raiders lightly.
"We are way under the radar," he said. "It's easy to overlook tiny Loch Raven."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun