Oakland Mills used three quarters of hard basketball Friday night to stay in front of Westminster.
The Owls knew they had nothing to lose as they entered the fourth down by more than 20 points to the Scorpions, a Class 2A state semifinalist last season. They took their own advantage, played to their opponent’s level and scored 23 points to attempt a comeback in the final eight minutes of play.
Oakland Mills held on, however, defeated the Owls 54-47 to become champions of their holiday tournament. Westminster senior forward Zoe Costley, who scored a game-high 19 points, earned all-tourney honors.
The Scorpions landed Marley Grenway and Kobie Scott-Pearson on the all-tournament team, while Aislynn Riggs received top player honors.
“They’ve got to have an understanding that there is a reckless abandon to the game of basketball,” Owls coach Dave Urban said. “The first three quarters, they were on their heels, and bad things happened. At the end of the third quarter into the fourth quarter, it’s like we’ve got nothing to lose. Go with that reckless abandon and make things happen.”
The Scorpions (8-0) carried a 13-8 lead into the second quarter until a 3-pointer from Owls sophomore guard Emily Davis cut that deficit. Westminster’s coaching staff reminded the girls from the sideline to make defensive adjustments as Oakland Mills regained possession during the team’s transition.
Grenway hit a 3 with 5:50 to go that sparked an 11-0 run for the home team as the Owls committed costly turnovers. A basket from Costley cut the Owls’ deficit 24-14, but Kiyah King’s 3-point just before the buzzer put the Scorpions up 29-17 at the break.
Oakland Mills scored nine straight in the third quarter to take a 40-18 lead, and the hosts held the Owls to just six points in that frame.
Costley scored six of the Owls’ 23 points in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Scorpions.
“I just think we play one to three quarters with intensity but we haven't put together four quarters,” Scorpions coach Walt Hagins said. “It’s not a matter of winning or losing, it’s just about execution and maintaining intensity and maturity. Today I just thought we lost some of that maturity, whether that was because of Westminster’s defense, their comeback, their tenacity, or if it was just that we were in a situation where we were really in a fight to win the game.”
In addition to her 19 points, Costley pulled down eight rebounds for the Owls (5-3). Junior guard Mallory Phillips notched three assists.
An Oakland Mills fan applauded and praised the Owls for their effort after the buzzer sounded, citing the Owls’ “nice little team” that was “well coached” as justification for their effort. The fan added there was nothing anyone should hang their head about concerning the game’s result.
Urban said he was approached by another Oakland Mills fan after the game who gave him a similar compliment. After all, the Scorpions have rarely been tested so far this season.
“I think he was pointing to, ‘You just forced our girls to play hard,’ and that is something we’re trying to instill in them,” Urban said. “I don’t care if you’re getting one minute, two minutes, or if you’re in there for 30 minutes, you’ve got to go with that energy every second you’re in there because every little letdown, you may get away with that against a team that’s not as good as this, but when you play a team as good as this, they’re going to exploit it.”