It took until the final minute, but Reservoir finally landed the knockout blow against Glenelg in the 3A East regional semifinals Thursday.
Aaron McDonald stole the ball with 30 seconds left, raced the length of the court and threw down an emphatic two-handed slam to put the finishing touches on a 78-71 victory over the visiting Gladiators.
Reservoir (18-5) had led the entire second half, building a cushion of as many as 13 points following a 3-pointer by Kyle Reilly (28 points) midway through the third quarter. Yet it wasn’t until that final basket by McDonald (11 points) that the Gators were able to let loose and celebrate.
“Just one of those unbelievable games by both teams and I have nothing but respect for those (Glenelg) guys,” Reservoir coach Mike Coughlan said. “They absolutely battled, shared the ball and left it all out there. It took everything that we had to get over the top of them.
“Credit to our kids for making the plays at the end, but credit to (Glenelg) too for pushing us the way they did.”
The win earns Reservoir a regional championship game match-up against undefeated City, the No. 1 ranked team in the Baltimore Metro area, on Friday night at 6 p.m. City defeated Centennial in its regional semifinal game, 81-45.
In addition to Reilly and McDonald, Reservoir also got standout efforts from Joe Kearney (15 points) and Seth Henry (11). And Reservoir needed every single one of those points because Glenelg got huge games of its own from Nick Oates (26 points) and Daine Van de Wall (23).
The first half was an offensive showcase, with both teams shooting well over 50 percent from the floor. The lead changed hands 13 different times through those opening 16 minutes.
“I’m a defense-first guy, but that first half was one of the best offensive displays I’ve seen as a coach,” Coughlan said. “We keep possessions, and I think we had 26 or 27 possessions and so did they, so that’s about 1.5 points per possession for both teams and usually it’s around one … unbelievable execution.”
Reservoir didn't cool off any to begin the third quarter, stringing together an 18-6 run immediately out of the break to establish its largest lead of the game, 59-46. Reilly hit two of his five 3-pointer on the game during that stretch.
Glenelg was far from done, though. The Gladiators got back within seven points, 64-57, at the end of the third quarter and then got all the way within two, 66-64, less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
As close as things got, Reservoir's composure never waivered. Reilly helped the lead grow quickly back to 72-64 with six straight points.
“We just had to stick together,” Reilly said. “Both teams were making shots, so there were going to be runs. But we just had to stay together, especially on defense.”
The Gladiators had one final surge left in the them, getting within three, 74-71, following a lay up by Dom Napolitano with 1:02 left in regulation. On the next possession, however, Kearney was fouled and made both foul shots to increase the lead to two possessions. McDonald then followed with the steal shortly after to seal the deal.
“They dug down deep, were able to force a few turnovers and get a couple baskets to get it all the way back to a one-possession game. I couldn't be more proud of them,” Glenelg coach Jansen McMillan said of his players. “To keep fighting in this kind of environment after being down by 13-15 points … they showed another gear. We just needed a couple more shots to fall or a one or two 50-50 balls to go our way.”
Reservoir 78, Glenelg 71
Re (18-5): Reilly 28, Kearney 15, Henry 11, McDonald 11, O’Hagan 5, Hedgren 4, Mayers 3, Reynolds 1.
G (13-12): Oates 26, Van de Wall 23, Helensky 8, Mullinix 5, Napolitano 5, Jarboe 2, Haussler 2.
Half: 41-40 Re.
Oakland Mills 78, Patuxent 63 (2A South semis)
Marvin Williams exploded for a career-high 31 points, including 18 during a decisive third quarter, to lead Oakland Mills past visiting Patuxent, 78-63, in the 2A South region semifinals Thursday night.
For Williams, whose previous career high was 17 points last winter, the huge effort came at the perfect time considering the team's leading scorer Mamadou Ndiaye was nursing a foot injury for the second straight game and second-leading scorer Deshawn Willis was forced to the bench early in the second half with a pair of technical fouls.
"Defense kicked it off for me, getting steals and getting out in transition and then I started feeling it with the 3-pointer too," Williams said. "I had to step up yesteday and today, especially with Mamadou out ... it's senior year for me. It's the last chance and I knew I had to go all out."
The next-man up theme was something Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne also talked about. Behind Williams, the Scorpions next two highest scorers were freshman Naquan Williams-Day (career-high 16 points) and sophomore Daniel Kiely (11 points).
"We talk about adversity every single day and unfortunately we have had to face alot of it lately," Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said. "The last week or two alot of crazy things have been going on, but you just push forward. Our mantra this week has been next-guy up. Fortunately that guy, no matter who it is, has been able to fill those shoes."
Patuxent was actually ahead 17-16 at the end of the first quarter before Oakland Mills regrouped to surge ahead and take a 39-31 lead into the half. Then the Scorpions kept their foot on the accelerator in the third quarter with Williams' hot hand. The senior guard scored the final 10 points of the period to stake Oakland Mils to a 65-43 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
"He was just out of this world tonight. He gets in those zones where he cant miss and it's fun to watch," Browne said.
Patuxent never got its deficit under double digits the rest of the way.
The Scorpions advance into their fourth regional championship game in the past five years. The previous three times have resulted in losses, which is a trend Oakland Mills will be trying to reverse when it travels to Potomac on Friday night.
Ndiaye, who played sparingly against Patuxent and scored just two points, will be re-evaluated prior to the game against Potomac to determine his availability, according to Browne. Willis and his 13 points a game, however, won't be on the floor because of the double technicals he recieved against Patuxent that result in a one-game suspension.
Potomac was a 3A state finalist last year and defeated Gwynn Park in its region semifinal game Thursday.
"Our toughest job is ahead of us, we know that," Browne said. "On paper we are obviously the underdog, but I'm excited to be a part of that game again. It's one game and anything can happen."
Oakland Mills 78, Patuxent 63
OM (20-4): Williams 31, Williams-Day 16, Kiely 11, Aaron 6, Bradley 6, Willis 4, Ndiaye 2, Mitchell 2.
P: Anderson 11, Johnson 8, Norman 8, Jackson 8, Maddox 8, Parsons 7, Murray 6, Gross 5, Leonard 2.
Half: 39-31 OM.