In a matchup between two MIAA A Conference programs riding four-game winning streaks and looking for a little early control of the Black Division, Boys’ Latin used its defense to get the job done.
The Lakers used a big third-quarter push to pull away Monday evening, holding the host Dragons to their lowest offensive total of the season in a 55-40 victory.
“I told the kids just now, that was by far our best defensive effort of the year,” Boys' Latin coach Cliff Rees said. “And tonight, coming in at halftime with the score close, the first thing we talked about was keeping up our defensive intensity. We felt offensively, with a little bit better execution and decision-making, we would eventually find a rhythm. The key then was to just keep playing that same kind of defense until our shots began to fall.”
Boys' Latin (5-2, 8-6) didn’t have to wait long after intermission for the offense to finally start clicking. After leading by just one point, 22-21, at the half, the Lakers put together an 11-2 run over the first four minutes of the third quarter to open up the team’s first double-digit lead of the night.
Lorenzo Donadio (17 points) and Riar Schell (10) each hit big threes during the run immediately after halftime. Then in the fourth quarter, Kendall Walker scored nine of his 11 points to help Boys' Latin pull away for good.
“The key to the second half was sharing the ball. Making cuts, getting open and passing to get open shots was the biggest difference I thought [from the first half],” Donadio said.
Glenelg Country (7-3, 10-5), which had scored at least 50 points in each of its previous 14 games this winter, was led offensively by Jordan Brathwaite (13 points) and Igor Yoka-Bratasz (10).
After those opening minutes of the third quarter that extended the Boys' Latin lead, the Dragons never managed to get any closer than eight points.
“Boys' Latin always does a great job and they are so well coached, so when shots aren’t falling it can get away from you quickly,” Glenelg Country coach Garrett O’Donnell said. “We probably didn’t react to missing shots as well as we should have, our defense let up a little and then it dominoes from there. Credit to BL, though, they took us out of what we like to do.”
Glenelg Country was actually in control at the onset. Noah Batchelor opened the game with a 3-pointer and the Dragons jumped out to an 8-2 lead just over three minutes in.
From there, however, Boys' Latin clamped down defensively by closing out on shooters — Glenelg Country hit just two 3-point shots over the final 29 minutes of the game.
“We worked really hard in practice on switching on their screens, really protecting from the paint out to the 3-point [line] because they are very good shooters,” Donadio said. “I thought our aggressiveness got in their mind a little and they maybe rushed their shots more later in the game.”
Boys' Latin took its first lead, 16-14, on a layup by Donadio midway through the second quarter. Glenelg Country temporarily went back in front following two layups from Brathwaite, but the Lakers closed the quarter with six of the final nine points to take a lead they never lost again.
After a 3-6 start to the season, Boys' Latin has now rattled off five straight wins.
“We had some struggles early on … then I put us in some very tough games over the holidays. It’s a credit to them and their resiliency for being able to bounce back and respond since then,” Rees said. “The kids have been working every day and are really starting to figure one another out. They are really playing off one another right now.”
On the other side, O’Donnell said the loss provides plenty of areas for his Dragons to focus on moving forward.
“The positive, if there is one, is that BL showed us some things that we aren’t good at,” he said. “We will be able to make some of those corrections after looking at the tape and will teach our kids how to get better from this — both from a physical aspect and mental aspect.”
Truth Norton scored a career-high 30 points, including five made 3-point shots, to lead the Scorpions to their most lopsided victory of the season. Stevie Jackson (16 points) and Judson Lincoln (11) also scored in double figures.
There were 11 different Oakland Mills players that scored at least two points, helping the team to its ninth straight win.
OM (9-2): Norton 30, Jackson 16, Lincoln 11, Simpson 8, Diaby 6, Evans 6, Pitts 5, Ndiritu 4, Thompson 3, Hopkins 2, Gray 2.