For Atholton, the third time was the charm.
At the end of a long week, during which the Raiders had already suffered back-to-back losses in one-possession games, the team got another chance in a close contest Friday night against rival Reservoir and didn’t waste it.
Jasen Parkins threw a half-court pass to a streaking Skyler Rankin, who converted a layup while being fouled with one second left on the clock to provide the deciding points in a 53-50 Atholton victory over the Gators in front of a capacity crowd on senior night.
“This game meant so much and to win like that was huge, especially for our seniors. We challenged those six guys to step up on their night and they did that, each and every one of them,” Atholton coach Jared Albert said. “We’ve been on the wrong end of so many of these close games, including against Reservoir earlier this year, but it’s a credit to them that they’ve continued to battle and not let it get to them.
“Tonight, finally, those guys got rewarded with a big win.”
Atholton seniors Rankin (12 points, 11 rebounds), Parkins (11 points) and Jacob Waterworth (16 points) all had huge games to help the Raiders win for just the second time in the last seven games. Those three, along with fellow senior Sean Washington, accounted for all 25 fourth-quarter points for an Atholton (4-5, 7-13) team that trailed Reservoir (6-3, 14-5) by five points, 33-28, after three quarters.
Waterworth, who hit two of his four threes on the night in the final four minutes, said the urgency of the situation kicked in during the timeout before the fourth quarter.
“When they made that run in the third quarter, we knew it was time to strap up on defense, make key stops, and then capitalize on those stops,” Waterworth said. “We were right there, we just had to make some plays.”
Ultimately, the outcome came down to a tie game in the final 30 seconds.
Reservoir, which had hit eight second-half 3-pointers to help ignite its offense after trailing 19-15 at the half, had the ball in the hands of Judge Payne (15 points) at the top of the key with time ticking down. The Gators’ senior drove the lane and scooped the ball toward the rim with his left hand, but it fell just short and was corralled by Atholton.
After a deflection nearly sent the ball out of bounds, Washington found Parkins to set the game-deciding play in motion. Rankin’s basket sent the home crowd into a frenzy and seconds later, following one final desperation heave by the Gators, they stormed the floor to celebrate the victory.
“Honestly, I was not in the position that I should have been. It was just a lot of great defense by [my teammates] and I happened to be leaking out … ,” Rankin said.
“I don’t plan to play too much in college for a main team so that [basket] means a lot to me. I know that’s going to be the last home game that I’m going to play here and it’s been a big part of my life for four years, so it’s a very emotional moment.”
The late-game heroics by Atholton spoiled strong efforts from Reservoir’s Payne and Isaac Gunther, who scored a career-high 15 points — all in the second half.
In the end, it was just finally the Raiders’ turn to come out on the winning end of things.
“This whole season, the ball hasn’t bounced our way a lot of the time, but we’ve stuck together. Coming into tonight, we weren’t thinking about the records or the games we’ve lost … it was all about focusing on what was in front of us,” Waterworth said. “I feel like this is the result we’ve been waiting for.”
Atholton 53, Reservoir 50
A (4-5, 7-13): Waterworth 16, Rankin 12, J. Parkins 11, Perlin 7, Washington 5, C. Parkins 2.
Re (6-3, 14-5): Gunther 15, Payne 15, Akinbinu 8, Ajimatanrareje 5, Walker 2, Carey 2, Ricketts 2, Miller 1.
Half: 19-15 A.
River Hill 51, Marriotts Ridge 48
The Hawks secured a piece of the program’s first county title since 2002 with the victory, prevailing down the stretch behind a game-high 19 points from Jaden Martin.
River Hill was in control at the half, leading 28-15, but the Mustangs battled back to make it a close game down the stretch thanks to a team-high 15 points from Berk Demiral.
Ultimately, however, the Hawks made enough free throws — seven in the fourth quarter — to pull out the victory and secure the clinching victory.
River hill closes the regular season at home against Oakland Mills next week.
RH (9-1, 15-6): Martin 19, Daniels 8, Krause 7, Champion 5, McKenna 4, Mann 3, Robinson 2, Clark 2, Okojie 1.
MR (3-6, 7-13): Demiral 15, Geiger 11, Held 8, Brennan 5, Ingersoll 4, Turner 3, Bergquist 2.
Oakland Mills 69, Wilde Lake 65 OT
The Scorpions used a huge second half to force overtime and then ultimately knock off Wilde Lake. Mister Hairston scored a career-high 14 points to lead four player in double figures for Oakland Mills, as Jordan Hopkins (13 points), Robert Burgess (13) and Daeshawn Eaton (12) had big games as well.
The Oakland Mills victory spoiled a career-high 34-point game from Wilde Lake’s Trea Keys. That is the most points scored by any Howard County player — public or private — this winter. Keys made five threes and hit seven of eight from the foul line.
Ultimately, though, the Scorpions did enough to come out on top and snap their five-game losing skid.
OM (3-6, 6-13): Hairston 14, Hopkins 13, Burgess 13, Eaton 12, Wheelock 9, Estep 4, Greggs 4.
WL (6-3, 12-8): Trea Keys 34, Bullett 15, David 4, Joseph 4, Van Tassell 4, Barnes 2, Greene 2.
Half: 37-27 WL; Regulation: 59-59.
Hammond 53, Glenelg 45
Micah Henry poured in 20 points, leading the way to the Golden Bears’ second big victory of the week — building on a win over county-leading River Hill on Wednesday.
Robert Gordon (11 points) and Ryan Ridgell (10) also played well for a Hammond team that built a 24-20 advantage at the half and maintained that lead down the stretch. Henry scored 12 of his points in the final two quarters, including going a perfect 4-4 from the foul line.
In the loss, Jeff Powell (11 points), Chris Currie (10) and Brent Wade (10) all finished in double figures scoring for Glenelg.
Ha (6-3, 9-11): Henry 20, Gordon 11, Ridgell 10, Goodson 5, Stallings 3, Woodson 2, Tukpah 2.
G (4-6, 13-7): Powell 11, Currie 10, Wade 10, Walsh 5, Koele 4, Piwowarski 3, Dry 1, Mills 1.
Half: 24-20 Ha.
Centennial 59, Long Reach 57
The Eagles prevailed in a game that was neck-and-neck from the very beginning thanks to a balanced scoring effort that saw Hayden Ford (15 points), Corey Eudell (14) and Andrew Hohmann (11) all finish in double figures.
Tre Morgan (23 points) and Chad Brown (13) did their best to help Long Reach pull off the late comeback, combining for 13 of the team’s 20 points in the fourth quarter after trailing by six at the end of the third.
Centennial has now won back-to-back games for the first time since early January.
C (6-3, 14-6): Ford 15, Eudell 14, Hohmann 11, White 9, Addisu 7, Taylor 3.
LR (2-7, 7-13): Morgan 23, Chad Brown 13, Shupe 9, Willis 4, Ekop 3, Lee 2, Casserly 2, Young 1.
Half: 25-24 C.
Howard 54, Mt. Hebron 47