It took battling through foul trouble and a hostile environment, but Oakland Mills passed its first real road test of the season Friday night.
Up against cross-town rival Wilde Lake, the Scorpions jumped out of the gates with an 11-0 run and never trailed the rest of the way en route to a 71-60 victory. Five guys ended up scoring eight points or more for an Oakland Mills team that improved to 10-0 on the season.
“It was a great crowd on both sides, a really good Friday night high school basketball game and its one of the first of many road tests for us in the coming weeks,” said Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne, whose squad had played eight of its first nine games this winter at home. “I thought the kids responded well to it all. They understood the importance of this game and they came to play tonight.”
The starting backcourt of Deshawn Willis (16 points) and Nekhi Bradley (15) were the leaders for the Scorpions on a night where their three traditional go-to guys were all saddled with foul trouble. Lavon Long (12 points) and Daivon Tapscott (11) each picked up their fourth personal foul in the third quarter, with Long fouling out with 6:20 left in regulation.
Oakland Mills managed to simply make enough baskets down the stretch to answer every run by Wilde Lake, which was led by Devon Groves (18 points) and Fred Robinson (9 points, 10 rebounds).
“Having Lavon out, there were some awfully big shoes to fill and we knew it couldn’t just be one guy,” Bradley said. “Everybody stepped up, worked hard and we pulled out a win.”
Bradley got Oakland Mills (8-0, 10-0) going on its surge early in the first quarter with a lay-up on the team’s first possession. Over the opening three minutes, the Scorpions forced four Wilde Lake (4-3, 6-4) turnovers, made five unanswered field goals and opened up an 11-point lead.
“Oakland Mills came out real aggressive and I told the guys that Coach Browne was going to have his team ready,” Wilde Lake coach Deon Wingfield said. “We dug ourselves a hole by turning the ball over and they turned those turnovers into points.”
Wilde Lake closed to within eight, 20-12, after the first quarter, but Oakland Mills made another surge in the second quarter behind Dajuan Dent (9 points, 13 rebounds) to open up its largest lead, 35-18, with two minutes left before halftime.
The Wildecats trailed by double digits the entire third quarter, although as Oakland Mills got itself into foul trouble the momentum began shifting. In the fourth quarter, after Long fouled out, Wilde Lake got itself back to within seven, 53-46, with 5:41 left following a lay-up by Groves.
Before Wilde Lake could get any closer, however, Kyle Madden-Striker (8 points) came up with a big put-back basket on the Scorpions’ next possession to up the lead back to nine. The Wildecats never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
“We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot every time we had Oakland Mills on their heels … we couldn’t get over that hump,” Wingfield said. “Missed free throws, giving up key rebounds kept us from being able to capitalize on their mistakes.”
Wilde Lake ended up shooting 18-30 from the foul line on the game. Oakland Mills, meanwhile, made 9-10 from the line in the final minute to hold off a Wildecat team that forced nine turnovers in the final quarter.
“That’s a great test for this young team and having guys like Kyle Madden-Stricker, with Lavon having to sit, coming in and giving us some big shots and big rebounds is huge,” Browne said. “We keep finding a way. We made enough plays against their pressure tonight to pull it out.”
Oakland Mills 71, Wilde Lake 60
OM (8-0, 10-0): Willis 16, Bradley 15, Long 12, Tapscott 11, Dent 9, Madden-Stricker 8.
WL (4-3, 6-4): Groves 18, Jackson 10, Handy 9, Robinson 9, Calloway 6, D. Jackson 4, Ampofo 3, Evans 1.
Half: 41-26 OM.
Centennial 64, Long Reach 50