It was a war of attrition this week, as snow on Monday and Tuesday created a three-games in three-days scenario for eight of the Howard County’s 12 teams. The result was lots of close games, momentum swings and an incredibly muddled pack in the middle of the county standings.
Of the eight squads to play three games in a row, only River Hill and Atholton emerged with three straight wins. The Hawks handled tough tests against Mt. Hebron, Centennial and Reservoir, while Atholton took care of Long Reach, Howard and Hammond. Both squads, consequentially, make a nice move up in the rankings.
The only other undefeated team left other than River Hill is Oakland Mills, which is absolutely rolling right now. The Scorpions have won their three county games by an average margin of 26.7 points.
All of the county teams have at least two games left before winter break to improve their position.
As always, feel free to tweet at me @BKHoCoSports with comments and/or questions about the rankings.
* Previous week rankings are in ()
1. (1) Oakland Mills (3-0 county, 4-0 overall)
The Scorpions aren’t just winning games right now … they are completely dismantling their opponents. The offense is clicking, with four guys averaging in double figures as part of a group that is averaging almost 80 points a night. Mamadou Ndiaye is leading the way with 25 points a night and he’s doing it with an array of highlight-reel dunks and mid-range jumpers. Throw in the deepest collection of athletic guards in the league and this is starting to look like a juggernaut again. Game against Centennial on the road should be a little more of a test.
Last game: Beat Howard, 80-45. Next game: At Centennial on Monday.
2. (4) River Hill (4-0 county, 4-0 overall)
It doesn’t get much more impressive than the Hawks winning three games in three days, all against teams ranked among the top six in these rankings. The wins over Centennial and Reservoir were particularly telling, as River Hill showed tremendous poise down the stretch of both contests. Charlie Thomas was a standout player heading into the season, but he’s quickly becoming a complete star. When he turns it on, there are very few at this level who can stop him. To go with a great inside game, Thomas has already hit four 3-pointers this season.
Last game: Beat Reservoir, 55-53. Next game: Home vs Long Reach on Monday.
3. (6) Centennial (3-1 county, 3-1 overall)
The Eagles aren’t going to blow teams away, that’s just not how this team is built. But when it comes to heart and toughness, there are few better than this group. All three of the team’s victories have been in games that came down to the wire, including two overtime wins. Even the loss, against River Hill, wasn’t decided until the final minute. The senior leadership from Walter Fletcher and Chase Conley has been great, but the real key of late has been the emergence of junior Isaiah White on the wing (16.5 points per game) and sophomore Tom Brown down low (12.5 ppg).
Last game: Beat Mt. Hebron, 54-42 in overtime. Next game: Home vs Oakland Mills on Monday.
4. (8) Atholton (3-1 county, 3-1 overall)
The Raiders were one of two teams to go 3-0 on the week and they did it in very impressive fashion. The three victories came by an average of more than 20 points. Even more eye-opening is that the team’s defense is allowing opponents to score only 43 points a game (best in the league). Michael Bernetti is leading the offense right now with four straight games in double figures scoring on the way to an average of 14 points a game.
Last game: Beat Hammond, 63-36. Next game: Home vs Glenelg on Monday.
5. (7) Mt. Hebron (2-2 county, 3-2 overall)
The Vikings looked poised to finish off an impressive week by beating Centennial on Friday, but after leading for the majority of the game the team fell short down the stretch. Still, the win over Reservoir on Thursday was a big one that showed this team is for real. David Herlihy is making a bid for most improved honors this winter, averaging 13.2 points a game as a terrific all-around forward. Between him and Mark Smith, along with senior leader Zach Andreas, Mt. Hebron is turning plenty of heads.
Last game: Lost to Centennial, 54-42 in overtime. Next game: At Hammond on Monday.
6. (2) Reservoir (2-2 county, 2-2 overall)
For a team with county championship aspirations, it was certainly a frustrating end to the week. Two low scoring games and two losses. The Gators still pass the eye test as a top team, but right now inconsistency is the biggest problem. Don’t be surprised if the team’s senior leaders Kyle Reilly and Aaron McDonald, both averaging more than 10 points a game, step things up a level going forward. It’s time to build some momentum before break with games against Howard and Centennial on the tap.
Last game: Lost to River Hill, 55-53. Next game: Home vs Howard on Monday.
7. (5) Marriotts Ridge (1-2 county, 2-2 overall)
After back-to-back losses, the Mustangs picked up a needed victory over Glenelg on the road. Robert Davis continues to be dynamic, averaging a county-best 27.8 points a game right now. Patrick Clipp has been a pleasant surprise in the backcourt as well, chipping in 9.8 points a night. But the real key may be Greg Speelman on the interior, who has shown great finishing ability and went for a career-high 15 points against the Gladiators.
Last game: Beat Glenelg, 58-47. Next game: Home vs Wilde Lake on Monday.
8. (3) Glenelg (1-2 county, 2-2 overall)
There is no real way to sugarcoat it … that was a bad week for the Gladiators. There were two double-digit losses and a lot of question marks going forward. The saving grace is that the talent is there and the season is still incredibly young. Dom Napolitano has been the bright spot so far, going for double digit scoring in every game so far for an average of 14.8 points a game. The game with Atholton up next is a really big one.
Last game: Lost to Marriotts Ridge, 58-47. Next game: At Atholton on Monday.
On the bubble: Hammond (1-3, 2-3), Howard (1-3, 1-3), Long Reach (1-3, 2-3) and Wilde Lake (0-3, 0-3).