Having lost what was once a double-digit lead, Oakland Mills boys basketball felt the need to change its personnel late in the third quarter Monday night.
The Scorpions were seldom making shots, and junior Daeshawn Eaton, the county’s leading scorer at 16.9 points per game, was dealing with a sore knee after colliding with a Glenelg player late in the first half. Combine that with Eaton’s three fouls, the Gladiators’ box-and-1 against him — a defense the Scorpions had not seen much all season — and Gladiators senior Josh Heigh’s career scoring night, and coach Jon Browne opted to rest one of his best players.
With about two minutes left in the period, Browne subbed out Eaton and relied on senior guards Sean Chance and Chan Brown to steady the backcourt. And they spearheaded the Scorpions’ stout fourth-quarter defensive effort. After allowing 20 points in the third quarter, they allowed just six points over the final eight minutes of their 60-52 home playoff victory.
“Those two defensively created so much change late in that game,” Browne said. “Chan and Sean were just out of this world. They just really saved us and made some big plays.”
No. 2 seed Oakland Mills, which has now won nine straight county games, advances to play at top-seeded River Hill in the 2A South, Section I final on Wednesday night. The Hawks defeated No. 5 seed Marriotts Ridge, 51-39.
“It’s a big game for us,” Brown said. “We’re 1-1 in the series, so both teams are going to come and play and compete. It’s going to be a great game.”
Early on, it seemed Oakland Mills (18-5) would not have much trouble handling Glenelg (13-11) for the third time this season. It opened up a double-digit lead in the first quarter in large part because of its full-court press. The Gladiators had seen this type of defense in their first playoff game, a blowout win over No. 6 seed Hammond, but they succumbed to the pressure Monday night by turning the ball over and giving their opponent easy buckets.
Eaton (team-high 16 points) and his teammates capitalized on the sloppy play to take a 19-7 advantage after the first period.
The teams then endured a choppy second quarter, filled with hand checks, blocking fouls and charges that that drew commotion from each coach and fan base. The quick whistle favored Glenelg, at least in terms of free throw opportunities, and coach Jansen McMillan’s team climbed back into the game by making nine of their 11 free throws in the period. The Scorpions made one of their three attempts.
In total, 24 fouls called in the first half, which ended with Oakland Mills holding a 28-26 advantage. Browne made sure the referees heard his about his disapproval.
“The officiating was horrible,” Browne said. “Why those three guys got this game is beyond me.”
Browne backed off the officials in the second half, but that did not stop his team falling behind minutes into the third quarter.
Heigh served as the difference maker. He hit a 3-pointer to start the second half and drilled another one a few minutes later to put Glenelg up five. After a layup, he hit his third 3-pointer of the period with just over two minutes to play. He then capped his red-hot scoring stretch with an and-1 layup, giving a motivated Gladiators squad a 44-39 advantage.
Heigh entered the game averaging 2.5 points but scored 14 — in the third quarter. He finished with a game-high 18 points, joining seniors Ryan Davis (13 points) and Garrett Mills (10 points) in double figures.
His breakout performance did not surprise McMillan, who praised the work of his senior guard, along with the rest of the veteran group, after the playoff defeat.
“The guys played a hell of a game,” McMillan said. “We played very well defensively in spurts, and we were able to come back and get the lead. And then we got sped up. We rushed some shots. But through all that, they played their behinds off.”
Many of those errant attempts came in the fourth quarter, when the Gladiators scored just six points and reverted back to their first-quarter struggles against Oakland Mills’ press. On offense, the Scorpions road senior Robert Burgess (11 points) the first part of the period — his 3-pointer with about four minutes to play put them up four — and then hit their free throws to hold on for the win down the stretch.
The Gladiators’ final chance to mount a comeback came with just under a minute to play. Down five, they had a chance to cut their deficit to one possession.
But as they attempted to loft an inbounds pass to Mills near midcourt, Brown knocked the ball away and finished on the other end to seal one of his best performances of the season.
“Chan Brown, absolutely, MVP of the night,” Browne said.
Oakland Mills 60, Glenelg 52
OM — Eaton 16, Burgess 11, Simpson 7, Brown 6, Hairston 5, Greggs 4, Chance 3, Hopkins 3, Eiland II 2, Gaymon 2, McFadden 1.
G — Heigh 18, Davis 15, Mills 10, Koele 3, Boswell 2, Dick 1, Onwumbiko 1.
Half: 28-26, OM
Around the league
2A South Region quarterfinals
River Hill (19-4) — 51, Marriotts Ridge (9-15) — 39
River Hill’s frontcourt duo of Dylan Daniels and OJ Okojie all but disappeared in back-to-back losses to end the regular season.
Daniels, the team’s fourth leading scorer at almost seven points per game, failed to score in losses at Oakland Mills and against Glenelg. Okojie totaled three points. After that defeat to the Gladiators, coach Matt Graves said his big men had to produce if the Hawks wanted to make a deep run in the 2A state playoffs.
Both players bounced back in a big way Monday night, combining to score 22 points as the top-seeded Hawks defeated fifth-seeded Marriotts Ridge for the third time this season. It marked the time this year Daniels and Okojie reached double-digit points in the same game.
The Hawks controlled the first quarter, but the Mustangs, who were coming off a tight victory over No. 4 seed Wilde Lake on Friday night, clawed within 23-21 at halftime.
That’s about as close as coach Tim Brady’s team would get. The Mustangs scored seven points in the third quarter — all courtesy of junior Brandon Held (11 points) — and fell into a six point hole after three quarters. The Hawks’ lead only grew from there in the eventual double-digit victory.
The win sets up the third matchup between River Hill and Oakland Mills for the 2A South, Section I title. The teams split their regular season meetings, with the Scorpions winning the most recent battle, 70-65, on Feb. 13.
RH — Daniels 12, Okojie 10, Martin 9, Krause 8, Champion 7, Mann 3, McKenna 2.
MR — Little 13, Held 11, Lee 10, Brennan 3, Snell 2.
Half: 23-21, RH
3A East Region quarterfinals
Centennial (15-8) — 49, Atholton (11-13) — 47
Make that nine wins in a row for Centennial, which held off Atholton in 3A East, Section I action Monday night.
Senior Sean Taylor (17 points) assumed the role of go-to scorer, while forward Hayden Ford (eight points) and guard Andrew Hohmann (six points) led the charge early on. In the first quarter alone, the duo combined for eight points to help the Eagles get out to a 16-7 lead.
Atholton made its move in the third quarter by scoring 16 points and holding its opponent to half of that. Five players scored for the Raiders during that stretch, which helped them enter the fourth quarter with a one-point lead.
They again had the advantage in the final minute with a quality chance to secure the upset. But with 7.4 seconds to play, the Eagles went up, 48-47, and stopped the Raiders on their ensuing trip down floor to escape with a victory.
Mt. Hebron will visit Centennial on Wednesday night in the 3A East, Section I final. The Vikings got the best of the Eagles in December but suffered a 61-54 loss on Feb. 13.
C — Taylor 17, Ford 8, Hohmann 6, Eudell 5, Hill 5, Hollwedell 5, Addisu 3.
A — Oates 13, Murray 10, Parkins 9, Daniel 5, Marshall 4, Marsh 3, Robinson 3.
Half: 29-22, C
Mt. Hebron (13-10) — 54, Reservoir (14-9) — 31
Reach Kyle Stackpole at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @kylefstackpole