Oakland Mills vs. Atholton boys basketball

Players from Atholton and Oakland Mills form lines to shake hands after the latter team defeated the host on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. (Staff photo by Jon Sham / January 13, 2014)

For all the parity that has overtaken the middle half of the league, Oakland Mills is managing to continue establishing itself as the clear-cut top team.

The Scorpions certainly aren’t invincible, with their last four games having been decided by single digits. The key, though, has been that in late-game situations, someone continually steps up and makes plays to keep the team’s winning streak — now at 29 straight against county foes — in tact.

The rankings this week tries to sort out the rest of the county, as the second half of the season is set to begin in earnest.

As always, feel free to tweet at me @BKHoCoSports with comments and/or questions about the rankings.

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* Previous week rankings are in ()

1. (1) Oakland Mills (10-0 county, 12-1 overall)

The big victory was the one against Atholton last Monday, which helped open up a two-game lead in the loss column over the rest of the league. The potential for how good this team can be when it’s clicking was on display during a first quarter that saw them outscore the Raiders, 26-12. But as important as that win was, it was just as important that the team avoid slipping up against Marriotts Ridge on Friday. In a game where coach Jon Browne said his guys weren’t at their best and the team lost its leading scorer, Mamadou Ndiaye (20.6 ppg), to foul trouble, Oakland Mills still found a way to win by one.

Last game: Beat Marriotts Ridge, 57-56. Next game: At Reservoir on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

2. (2) Atholton (9-2 county, 10-3 overall)

A slow start doomed the Raiders against Oakland Mills in their only game last week. But the second half of that game definitely proved that Atholton can play with the Scorpions and the lessons learned should serve the team well down the stretch. After three straight games scoring in single-digits, Michael Bernetti was huge against Oakland Mills with 20 points. Joelle Martin also starred, going for 14 points and giving him four straight outings with 10 or more points.

Last game: Lost to Oakland Mills, 78-71. Next game: Home vs Centennial on Friday at 7 p.m.

3. (3) River Hill (9-2 county, 10-4 overall)

After escaping a double-overtime classic against Marriotts Ridge last Monday, the Hawks earned a marquee win over Douglass-PG on Friday. Charlie Thomas continued to carve up opponents in that one, going for the first triple-double of his career with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks. The junior big man has now gone for 22 or more points in six of the last seven games and is quickly approaching the 1,000-point mark for his career. Going forward, though, don’t discount the importance of having a solid supporting cast around him. Gary Sandler, Mike Titus, Mike Heitzmann and Deion Richardson are all averaging at least six points a game.

Last game: Beat Marriotts Ridge, 65-62 in 2OT. Next game: Home vs Centennial on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

4. (4) Reservoir (7-3 county, 7-5 overall)

It was a quiet week for the Gators, comfortably winning their only game against Hammond. Six guys scored seven points or more in that victory against the Golden Bears. It all sets up a showcase game against Oakland Mills on Tuesday that provides Reservoir with another chance to start building some momentum toward a stretch run. Last year, the Gators lost their two meetings against the first-place Scorpions by a combined six points.

Last game: Beat Hammond, 81-63. Next game: Home vs Oakland Mills on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

5. (6) Centennial (7-4 county, 10-4 overall)

The Eagles have now won six of their last seven games heading into an unbelievably tough stretch of their season. Five of the next six games are against teams with a winning record, starting with games this week against River Hill and Atholton. The good news is that Centennial has the county’s most consistent player right now to lead them on their journey. Junior Isaiah White is the only player in the league this winter to score in double figures in every single game on his way to a scoring average of 16.7.

Last game: Beat KASA, 68-57. Next game: At River Hill on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.