Oakland Mills got everything it wanted and more from its annual Holiday Tournament, which wrapped up Saturday night with a 78-65 championship game victory over McDonogh in overtime.
For a team that entered the weekend searching for its identity following back-to-back losses before winter break, the Scorpions found themselves in a big way.
“I’m hoping we are beginning to catch some groove maybe,” Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said. “This was a big tournament for us — one of the best tournaments in the area — so for us to come out and win it against two very quality opponents, I’m hoping we’ve stirred the pot a little bit.”
“I’m excited … that was fun, man.”
Mamadou Ndiaye, who scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the championship contest, said the team has grown significantly in a short period of time.
“We may have fell short against Calvert Hall (and Long Reach), but we learned from our mistakes and just got two big ones against two quality teams,” Ndiaye said.
Will Robinson Jr. ended up being named the tournament’s most valuable player after producing back-to-back games with 28 or more points. In the game Saturday against McDonogh, he scored a career-high 32 points, all but two of which came in the second half and overtime.
He was particularly big down the stretch, where he went 15-16 from the foul line. As a team, Oakland Mills (6-2) sank 18 of its final 20 from the charity stripe after only making 7 of its first 19 on the night.
“When (Mamadou) hit two, I knew that someone upstairs was smiling down on me … and then it was pretty fun to watch Will sink six in a row to close out the game,” Browne said. “That was important that we made those free throws, because you know they were calling timeouts and making shots.”
Getting to those final minutes of overtime for Oakland Mills, though, was a true rollercoaster ride.
McDonogh (9-4) was in complete control during the first half, as the Eagles raced out to a 16-6 advantage and built a lead of as many as 14 points, 30-16, midway through the second quarter.
But Oakland Mills closed the half on a mini 5-0 spurt that seemed to carry immediately into the third quarter. The Scorpions scored the first 10 points out of the break, all on lay-ups or tip-ins by Robinson, Ndiaye or Daniel Kiely (11 points), to grab the team’s first lead since the opening two minutes of the game.
“Defensively we let them go right down the middle and we did not rebound,” McDonogh coach David Gately said. “We’re a pretty darn big team out there and we did not rebound. Instead of checking out and going to the glass, we were going right to the glass and they have athletes that jump over us and lay it in.”
The third and fourth quarters ended up being a back-and-forth affair that featured seven lead changes. It was Oakland Mills, however, sparked by a three from Tre Hopkins and a dunk by Robinson, leading in the final minutes. With just 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Scorpions had a 6-point cushion.
But that’s when McDonogh found some magic.
Point guard Damian Chong-qui (15 points) hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Then, just before the buzzer sounded, Jaedon Willis (16 points) buried a desperation shot from the left corner to tie the game at 61-61 and force overtime.
“I think we saved our timeouts, which was a decent job, and the kids performed,” Gately said. “We called sets, they ran them and they made the shots. Very, very impressive to be able to force that game into overtime.”
Robinson said, while frustrating, the Eagles’ comeback didn’t change Oakland Mills’ mentality.
“It’s basketball, it happens,” Robinson said. “It’s 0-0 at that point and you have to come out and play like it’s first quarter.”
It was Robinson that set the tone for the extra period with another dunk and that was followed by four straight points from Ndiaye to push the Scorpions lead up to six, 67-61.
McDonogh lost its shooting touch after that and, combined with Oakland Mills’ clutch foul shooting, the game got out of hand quickly. A series of fouls, along with back-to-back technicals, ended up sending Robinson to the foul line for eight straight attempts — all of which he made.
While disappointed in the loss, Gately said he’s pleased with what he’s seeing from this group, which has already beaten five ranked teams this season — including Poly in the opening round of the Oakland Mills tournament a day earlier.
“From where this team was last year, to where they are now, I think they feel like they’ve come a long way,” he said.
Oakland Mills 78, McDonogh 65 OT (Oakland Mills Holiday Tournament championship)
OM (6-2): Robinson 32, Ndiaye 19, Kiely 11, Hopkins 7, Williams-Day 7, Aaron 2.
M (9-4): Willis 16, Chong-qui 15, Moore 11, Locke 9, Fisher 8, Cornwell 6.
Half: 30-21 M; End of regulation: 61-61.
Glenelg 63, Laurel 55 (Spartans Holiday Classic)
G (1-5, 3-5): Oates 26, Hammert 18, Napolitano 14, Mills 3, Koele 2.
L: Hawkins 17, Cooper 8, Elue 8, Sowels 7, Hubbard 6, Mbakuku 4, Hinckley 3, Charies 2.
IDEA 59, Reservoir 53
I: Bones 19, Milstead 12, Green 11, Palacio 7, Young 5, Brooks 3, Joyner 2.
Re (5-1, 6-3): Henry 20, Phillips 13, Obering 7, Winters 6, G. Garcia 4, Omorogbe 3.
Half: 29-28 Re.
Glen Burnie 56, Atholton 51 (James T. Bogle Invitational) - CLICK TO SEE FULL STORY
GB: McCain 20, Cuffey 11, Powell 10, Watkins 6, Santos 6, Biscoe 3.
A (3-3, 5-4): Carter 13, Willis 12, Mason 7, Waterworth 6, Kelly 4, Kwong 3, Mendelsohn 2, Washington 2, Rodgers 2.
Annapolis Area Christian 71, Reservoir 55 (Friday)
AAC: Williams 21, Foley 17, Jacobs 12, R. Rawlings 9, Austin 5, Eberle 3, Bristol 2, K. Rawlings 2.
Re: Henry 10, Winters 8, Gaines 7, J. Garcia 7, Obering 7, Phillips 6, G. Garcia 4, Omoragbe 3, Maloney 2, Weith 2.
Half: 49-24 AAC.