In an uneven performance befitting of opening night, the good ended up outweighing the bad for Oakland Mills against Mt. Hebron on Monday evening.
Bouncing back from sluggish start that saw the visiting Vikings (0-1) jump out to an early nine-point advantage, the Scorpions (1-0) capitalized on an 18-3 second-quarter run to create a lead the team never lost the rest of the way en route to a 69-52 victory.
“The chemistry was a little off tonight, there were some first-game jitters, and I think we all realize that this is still a work in progress with all the new pieces we have. But, when we were good tonight, we were really good,” Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said. “I thought we came alive and started playing a whole lot better as the game went on and at the end of the day we got the job done.
“There are obviously just a lot of things we still have to fine tune and work on.”
Will Robinson (18 points), Daniel Kiely (15) and Naquan Williams-Day (14) led the offense for Oakland Mills. On the other side, Mark Smith (21 points) and Aaren Smith (13) were the scoring leaders for Mt. Hebron.
In that opening quarter it was Mark Smith that helped the Vikings jump ahead. With Mt. Hebron’s backcourt duo of Connor Maloney and Johnny Linsenmeyer breaking the Scorpions’ press, they were then able to get the ball up the floor to Smith for open shots from the wing.
The senior guard proceeded to hit four threes in the first eight minutes. Then, following a three by Aaren Smith to open the second quarter, Mt. Hebron had suddenly opened up its largest lead of the night, 17-9.
“We talked a lot about not trying to go to fast against their pressure, working for each other, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that, especially early on,” Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. “We got ourselves the looks we wanted and the guys were making shots.”
Even with his team behind, though, Browne just kept telling his guys to stay the course.
“Against their zone at the beginning we weren’t moving the ball very well and had a hard time getting the ball inside. But we never really panicked, we just had to be patient and start making better decisions in our half-court offense,” he said.
The real solution to the offensive woes ended up being Oakland Mills turning up the team’s defensive pressure, creating steals and then getting out in transition.
In the second quarter, sparked by the defensive energy of Kaiyon Stanfield (8 points) and the outside shooting of Williams-Day (4 threes on the night), Oakland Mills scored 11 unanswered points as part of an overall 18-3 run that saw almost everything begin with steals around midcourt.
“Kaiyon kind of grounded us right there in that second quarter with extra pressure. He was fresh legs off the bench and we needed that at that time,” Browne said. “Everyone was kind of looking around for someone to do it and he delivered, which is great because if he can give us that then that’s just one more piece to the puzzle.”
Oakland Mills took a 29-23 lead into halftime.
Mt. Hebron had one more run in it to begin the third quarter, pulling within 30-29 in the opening two minutes of the period. But Oakland Mills proceeded to issue the knockout blow shortly after that with a 17-4 run that was punctuated by a dunk from Tre Hopkins to give the team its first double-digit lead.
The Scorpions’ advantage was never fewer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Robinson did almost all of his damage in the second half, scoring 14 of his team-high 18 in the final two quarters.
For Mt. Hebron, Linsenmeyer said there is plenty of build on despite the loss.
“I was really happy overall with the performance, just not necessarily the result,” Linsenmeyer said. “There were no huge errors, the kids played hard and we just simply didn't make some of those shots we were making early in the game. Hopefully we can take some of those positives and allow them to catapult us forward against another really tough team in River Hill on Wednesday.”
Oakland Mills 69, Mt. Hebron 52
OM (1-0, 1-0): Robinson 18, Kiely 15, Williams-Day 14, Hopkins 9, Stanfield 8, Aaron 3, Harris 2.
MH (0-1, 0-1): M. Smith 21, A. Smith 13, Maloney 8, Bryant 4, Horton 3, Schroeder 3.
Half: 29-23 OM.
Glenelg Country 66, Loyola-Blakefield 53
GC (1-2, 3-2): Longpre 20, Williams 13, Tverijonas 10, Wilson 8, Bernetti 8, Burnett 6, Hightower 1.
LB: Fava 24, Floyd 9, Lewis 5, Williams 5, W. Clark 4, Anderson 2, Conrad 2, Hurley 2.
Half: 33-23 GC.
Marriotts Ridge 71, Owings Mills 61
MR (1-0, 2-0): Caffes 28, Speelman 15, Clipp 15, Tollentino 5, Koller 5, Morath 2, Whitacre 1.
OM: Harrey 30, Tiawan 12, Byrd 8, Sneed 3, Jenkias 2, Johnson 2, Modic 2, Giles 2.
Hammond 60, North County 59
Ha (0-1, 1-1): Wilcher 22, Johnson 16, Wheatley 9, White 6, Ridgell 3, Whong 2, Nicholas 1, N. Moore 1.
NC: Stone 16, Queen 16, Robinson 12, Jordan 11, Beckmon 3, Alliu 1.
High Point 67, Long Reach 58 OT
Ron Carter finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds in the losing effort. It was the second straight overtime loss to open the season for the Lightning.
HP: Isaac Richmond 15, Cole 15, King 3, Isaiah Richmond 15, Finley 4, Ajenifuja 3, Johnson 4, Manyan 4, Tyler 2.
LR: (0-1, 0-2): Avery 4, Brodnax 2 Carter 11, Clark 8, Duckett 14, Lamar 17, Menusan 2.
Half: 30-22 LR ; Regulation: 54-54.