Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne threw out the Xs and Os in the middle of his team’s game against Dulaney on Friday night in the semifinals of its Holiday Tournament.
Coming off two straight losses and locked in a tight game against the undefeated Lions, Browne’s message was simple — have a little fun.
“We needed to start enjoying ourselves out there again … basketball is a fun game and I think we had forgotten that a little bit,” Browne said. “I basically just told the guys to loosen up and act like they wanted to be out there. If we could just start playing Oakland Mills basketball, the rest would take care of itself.”
Bursting out of halftime with a 16-7 run, Oakland Mills (5-2) heeded Browne’s words and opened up its first double-digit advantage of the night over Dulaney (4-1) and never looked back the rest of the way en route to a 74-65 victory.
Browne said the win, which saw game-highs of 28 points and 10 rebounds from Will Robinson Jr., was a much-needed boost after losing back-to-back games against Long Reach and Calvert Hall.
“We definitely needed a win here and, on top of that, it’s a quality win against a good opponent,” Browne said. “But more than anything it’s good to have a bit of a dog fight like that where you have to tough it out. The kids responded extremely well tonight, especially in the third quarter.”
Oakland Mills advances into the championship game of the tournament on Saturday at 7 p.m. against McDonogh, which defeated Poly 61-57 in the first game of the night.
Dulaney was ahead out of the gates against the host Scorpions, finishing the first quarter with a 20-17 lead. But foul trouble began to haunt the Lions in the second quarter and Oakland Mills capitalized on the situation to grab a 32-25 lead at the half.
By intermission, Dulaney had seven players, including four starters, with two or more fouls. Included in that group was the team’s leading scorer on the season — Isaiah Lamb — who was held to just two points in the first 16 minutes.
“To be honest, I thought with all the foul trouble we were in, our second and third team did a nice job of keeping us close. But, not trying to make excuses, we’re just not going to do the things we are trying to do without our (top) guys on the floor,” Dulaney coach Matt Lochte said. “Overall, we just took too long tonight to start playing good basketball and that includes in that third quarter with the starters back out there. Oakland Mills is a good team and you aren’t going to beat teams like that playing bad basketball.”
In that third quarter, Oakland Mills capitalized on its transition offense. With Robinson, Mamadou Ndiaye (14 points) and Daniel Kiely (12) all getting into the act, the Scorpions broke the Lions’ press and finished at the rim.
“We’re pretty athletic, so we like to run,” said Robinson, who had an emphatic dunk during the third-quarter run. “When rebounds come off, we like to run and get dunks and lobs and stuff like that.”
Dulaney made things respectable late in the game as Lamb heated up and Oakland Mills struggled at the foul line. Lamb scored 19 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter and the Scorpions finished the night just 21-40 from the free-throw line.
Still, the closest Dulaney got down the stretch was within eight with 33 seconds left.
“We made it a little closer than it should have been, our free-throw shooting is killing us, but overall I’m pleased with the effort and the result,” Browne said.
Oakland Mills 74, Dulaney 65
OM (5-2): Robinson 28, Ndiaye 14, Kiely 12, Hopkins 7, Stanfield 6, Williams-Day 3, Aaron 2, Campbell 2.
D (4-1): Lamb 25, Harrelson 10, Jair Williams 8, Stevens 6, Dwyer 6, Bonner 4, Kasslois 4, Bernardez 1, McCamie 1.
Half: 32-25 OM.
Glenelg 62, Huntingtown 53 (Spartans Holiday Classic)
G: Napolitano 18, Oates 18, Davis 8, Conners 5, Mills 4, Wade 4, Hammert 3, Monroe 2,
Hu: Easton 17, Taveras 11, Albert 9, Easton 6, Diamond 6, Hooper 4.
Atholton 55, Broadneck 53 (Glen Burnie Tournament)
A (3-3, 5-3): Willis 16, Mason 8, Carter 8, Mendelsohn 7, Washington 6, Kelly 4, Rodgers 4, Roman 2.
B: Schwab 17, Toomer 16, Davis 9, Kennedy 5, Williams 5, Sims 1.
Half: 22-20 B.
Chapelgate 68, Surratsville 67 (Spartans Holiday Classic)
Ch: Grandy 21, Madden 15, Frierson 12, Tringali 10, Mitchell 8, Ball 2,
S: Kershaw 7, Cofield 11, Christian 14, Smith 21, Jones 1, Joppy 9, Rhineart 2, Middleton 2.
Half: 40-37 Ch.
Annapolis Area Christian 71, Reservoir 55
Digital Harbor 61, Wilde Lake 52