It took a clutch three down the stretch and a shot by River Hill that rimmed out at the buzzer, but Oakland Mills found a way to survive Friday on the road against an undermanned Hawks squad.
Truth Norton’s 3-point shot from the corner with a minute left ended up serving as the deciding points in a 54-51 victory, the third in a row for Oakland Mills (2-1, 3-2). After watching an eight-point fourth quarter lead disappear, Scorpions’ coach Jon Browne said his group was extremely fortunate to be able to pull out the win in the end.
“At this point, regardless of who is playing or not playing, you know that when we step onto the floor with River Hill it’s going to be a dog fight. It’s become quite the rivalry for us,” Browne said. “And, at the end of the day, we were lucky tonight. We hit a big shot late and made just enough free throws. In some ways to escape with a win was a Christmas Miracle.”
DJ Hopkins set the tone early with three made 3-pointers in the first quarter on his way to finishing with a game-high 18 points, followed closely behind by Barry Evans (13 points).
Oakland Mills' DJ Hopkins talks about the Scorpions' 54-51 road win over River Hill on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.
On the other side, Victor McKoy scored 14 points and Levi Lawal added 13 to lead the way for River Hill (0-4, 1-4), which has now lost its four games this winter by a combined 14 points. Playing without leading scorer Nick Marshall — out indefinitely with a knee injury — the Hawks fought until the end, though, and for that coach Matt Graves said his team deserves a lot of credit.
“It’s hard right now, I’m not going to sit here and deny that, but at the same time these guys know how close we are and they understand what we need to do in order to get over this hump ,” Graves said. “They battled tonight. They played gritty, they played tough and they didn’t quit. There were times in the first half tonight where they could have easily shut the door and said lets get ready for the holiday weekend, but they never did that.”
Oakland Mills led 16-9 after one quarter and 32-23 at the half. The lead was still eight for the Scorpions, 48-40, heading into the final period after getting a big three late in the third quarter from Judson Lincoln (11 points).
River Hill simply never quit, though. The Hawks got multiple big baskets from McKoy and Elijah Feeney (9 points) to get back within a possession and then Ethan Smith knocked down a mid-range jumper with 2:28 remaining in regulation to put River Hill ahead for the first time since the early stages, 51-50.
The score stayed that way until Norton delivered his only made basket of the night to put the Scorpions back in front for good. Evans added a free throw with 25 seconds remaining to make it a three-point game and then River Hill watched the desperation attempt by Christian Myers rattle in and out as time expired.
Browne said afterward that wins are important anyway you can get them, however, he also acknowledged that his group is still learning.
“A lot of our issues right now are between the ears. We are lacking communication and we get lost in the sauce at times,” he said. “But I guess there’s something to be said for finding a way to win. We just need to find a way to also be more consistent and put it all together. Hopefully the break will do us good.”
Oakland Mills 54, River Hill 51
OM (2-1, 3-2): Hopkins 18, Evans 13, Lincoln 11, Diaby 7, Norton 4, Jackson 1.
A Glenelg team known for its defense so far this winter showcased the ability to score in bunches on Friday night en route to earning a non-county victory over the Yellowjackets.
Nate Curtis got things going with 13 points in the first quarter and Bisi Owens finished things late with 13 of his career-high 20 points in the fourth, as the Gladiators led for all but two minutes of the contest.
“If we are patient and we run our stuff, we have some guys that definitely can put the ball in the basket,” Glenelg coach Alex Blazek said. “They are really maturing and tonight I thought we took a nice step forward against a good Chapelgate team.”
The victory marked the first time this winter through four games that Glenelg (2-2) has scored more than 44 points. Most of the damage was done in the opening quarter, with the Gladiators racing out to a 19-3 advantage in those first eight minutes.
The lead grew to as many as 17 points early in the second quarter before Chapelgate finally found its footing. And — behind the efforts of Jordan Praylow (11 points), Lance Richards (8) and Zach Knox (8) — the Yellowjackets fought all the way back to within five points in the fourth quarter.
In the end, though, the deficit was just too much to overcome. Owens went on to hit three 3-pointers in the final quarter to help the Gladiators pull away for good.
“We lost that first quarter 19-3 and then we outscored them by four the rest of the way, so without question that’s the game right there,” Chapelgate coach Frick Frierson said. “And it’s not even that we only scored three points, I think we can survive that … but our defense was just so bad. It’s a shame because we got better as the game went on. It was just too far to have to come back.”
G (2-2): Owens 20, Curtis 13, Walsh 5, Pearcy 5, Dalton 4, Tolbert 2, Perfator 2, Buch 2, Thomas 1.
Marcus Mitchell (22 points) and Brince Shelton (14) led the way for the Wildecats to the lopsided victory at home. After scoring only seven points in the first quarter, Wilde Lake rebounded to win the second quarter 21-9 to take a lead the team never lost the rest of the way.