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.
* 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.
6. (7) Glenelg (5-6 county, 7-7 overall)
The Gladiators may have a losing record, but the beauty of the power rankings is that it is all about how a team is playing right now. And, with three straight wins, Glenelg currently is tied for the second longest winning streak in the county. The latest victory, a 15-point decision over Mt. Hebron, made a statement and helps the Gladiators leapfrog the Vikings in this week’s rankings. When this team is hitting 3-pointers, like it did by knocking down 12 against Mt. Hebron, it is capable of beating anyone. Dom Napolitano has quietly scored 10 or more points in every game but two this year.
Last game: Beat Mt. Hebron, 67-52. Next game: At Wilde Lake on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
7. (5) Mt. Hebron (6-5 county, 8-6 overall)
The Vikings have now dropped two straight games, although there are still a lot of good things going for the team. David Herlihy has scored in double figures in 11 straight games, giving him a team-high scoring average of 15.8 points per game. Mark Smith is right behind him with 12.8 ppg. The key to turning things back around will be getting the rest of the offense going. In the last six games, four of which have resulted in losses, Mt. Hebron is averaging just 51.6 points a game as a team.
Last game: Lost to Glenelg, 67-52. Next game: At Reservoir on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
8. (NR) Howard (4-7 county, 5-8 overall)
The Lions have built a little momentum now with back-to-back wins, defeating Marriotts Ridge and Long Reach. Both wins were in games decided by seven points, bringing Howard’s record to an impressive 5-1 in games decided by single digits. The increased production in those two contests from Dakwonte Avery and Patrick O’Malley certainly went a long way. Both guys averaged more than 12 points a game in the last two, with Avery going for a career-high 17 against Long Reach.
Last game: Beat Long Reach, 66-59. Next game: At River Hill on Friday at 7 p.m.
On the bubble: Hammond (3-8, 5-9), Long Reach (2-9, 5-9), Marriotts Ridge (2-9, 4-10), Wilde Lake (1-10, 2-11).