Oakland Mills' Lavon Long will be the first to tell you it was never about the points. A 6-foot-6 guard-forward with 3-point range and the ability to get to the basket and finish above the rim, the senior could score with the best of them. And, with double-digit scoring efforts in every game but one this past winter, he consistently demonstrated that.
The truth is, though, Long's impact on the game stretched far beyond the scoring column. He was just as content doing all the little things that win games.
"Every time I stepped on the court I wanted to do whatever was needed for us to win," said Long, who finished among the top seven in the county in five major statistical categories this winter. "I never thought about the scoring or the rebounds, just played my game. The way I see it, the success of the whole season wasn't going to be based on me. It was about the team and I did whatever I could to make the team better."
With Long as its leader, Oakland Mills rolled its way to a perfect regular season (22-0), a county championship and a spot in the regional finals before suffering its first loss to Calvert.
As a senior transfer in from Mount St. Joseph, Long helped transform a Scorpions' program that won just eight games overall in 2011-12 and earned himself the distinction of being this year's Columbia Flier/Howard County Times Player of the Year.
"He was the pulse behind everything we did … He was the one that set the tone," Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said. "He was an emotional leader more than anything and the kids fed off him. He helped make every guy that played alongside him into a stud and that speaks to his unselfishness."
After making the decision to transfer to Oakland Mills at the end of the spring, Long got his first chance to play with his new teammates during the summer league and he quickly built up a chemistry that paid dividends from day one this winter.
Oakland Mills earned a five-point victory over Centennial and a one-point win over Reservoir in its first two games, before handling River Hill by double digits for a 3-0 start.
Winning was nothing new for Long, who had played his first three years of high school with one of the top private schools in the state. But for the rest of the Scorpions it was a feeling they were hungry for more of.
"I felt like those first couple games really sparked the season," Long said. "Everyone saw that we could do it and they started believing in themselves."
Long, himself, hit the ground running with seven straight double-digit scoring efforts. Browne says the fact that Long had decided to sign a letter of intent to play for Loyola University (MD) before the season took away any potential distractions.
"I thought it really took a weight off his shoulders and allowed him to just be himself out there," Browne said. "He didn't have that pressure of going out every night trying to impress somebody … he was able to make winning the sole focus and help us reach our potential as a team."
As the season rolled on, Oakland Mills kept winning and Long kept stuffing the stat sheet. By season's end he finished with averages of 15 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.6 blocks 3 assists and 2.5 steals a night. He was the team leader in all of those categories except steals and for good measure he threw in 14 3-pointers and took 18 charges.
And when the season did finally come to a close, Long didn't go down with a fight. Against Calvert in the 2A South regional final, he produced a season-high 25 points to go along with 12 rebounds to keep Oakland Mills in position to win until the final seconds.
While the loss kept the Scorpions from reaching their ultimate goal of a state title, Long said he has no regrets.
"Overall, yeah, I'm happy with the season that we had … it was everything I could have hoped for when I made the decision to transfer," he said. "It was tough to lose that game but that doesn't change the rest of the season."
Named to the all-county first team are:
Robert Davis, Marriotts Ridge. After the Mustangs graduated three players that averaged nine points or more last season, the spotlight was squarely on Davis this winter and the junior point guard delivered. He upped his scoring average nearly eight points a game to 17.8 points a night and did all the little things the Mustangs needed to produce a winning county record for the second consecutive season.
"He's really a calming influence, doing literally a lit bit of everything for us," Marriotts Ridge coach Marcus Lewis said. "He has such a well-rounded game and carried our team for long stretches this season."
Davis scored in double figures in 22 of 24 games, going for a season-high 31 against Wilde Lake with seven threes. He also scored 25 points, including the game winning 3-pointer in the final seconds, against Reservoir. On the season, he shot over 40 percent from 3-point range and made 54 shots from beyond the arc - more than any other public school player. He also shot 83 percent from the foul line and averaged 2.8 assists a game.