HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Atholton boys basketball didn’t panic as it attempted to mount a second-half comeback against Arundel on Monday night.
The Raiders experienced a similar situation in their season opener three days earlier. Trailing by 16 to Centennial in the third quarter, they not only erased that deficit but built a lead of their own in the eventual 69-62 win.
But Monday’s game didn’t quite play out the same way. They twice came within a point during the final 70 seconds but never regained the lead in the 53-51 defeat.
“Atholton is always tough,” Wildcats coach Ronald Ramsey said. “Any time we play someone in Howard County, it’s always going to be a tough game.”
Arundel forward Ian Hogan led all scorers with 20 points and was one of the few players who had any sort of success at the foul line. Three of his four free throw makes came with under a minute to play to preserve the Wildcats late-game advantage.
He did throw up an air ball during that stretch, giving possession back to Atholton (1-1) with about two seconds to play, but Arundel (1-1) clinched the win after Raiders junior Maxwell Murray clanked his half court heave off the left side of the backcourt.
Still, based on his team’s overall performance, Atholton coach Jared Albert was pleased his group was able to put itself in a position to win in the waning moments.
“For us, today, it was the little things. We didn’t rebound real well, I don’t think we shot free throws real well,” Albert said. “We fought back just like we did Friday night, but we got to do a better job not putting ourselves in a hole.”
With five junior guards in its starting lineup, the Raiders appeared content to pass the ball around the perimeter early on against the Arundel zone and hoist perimeter jumpers, many of which were off the mark. On the other end, they either gave up layups from in close or committed fouls.
Albert said the team’s defensive goal every game is to hold the opponent under 50 points, but the Wildcats were well on their way to shattering that mark after a 19-point first quarter.
However, in struggling from the charity strike, Arundel never took full control of the game. The Wildcats were 4-for-14 from the line in the first half and still took a 27-20 lead into intermission, though their cushion would not surpass seven points the rest of the way.
With junior Casey Parkins (18 points) shouldering the scoring load, Atholton stayed within striking distance throughout the third quarter. And finally, at the 4:02 mark, the Raiders made it a one possession game with two free throws from Baiyee-Ndang Agbor-Baiyee.
Albert saw his players lock down defensively during this stretch. He watched them dictate the pace. They still shot poorly from the field, but their hustle — a word Albert uses to describe this group’s “identity” — contributed to the Raiders’ second-half surge.
In response, Arundel relied on its defense to close out the game. It forced back-to-back turnovers with about four minutes to play and converted layups in transition, turning a one-possession game into a six-point lead. When Atholton threatened to go ahead with 19 seconds remaining, Ramsey’s team forced the Raiders to call two timeouts. Then Parkins air balled a short corner jumper.
But the Wildcats’ biggest defensive play came from Hogan, who grabbed the rebound to all but secure a close victory.
“Defense is the key,” Hogan said. “Keep working on defense. That’s our main thing we go to is defense.”
Arundel (1-1) — 53, Atholton (1-1) — 51
ATH — Parkins 18, Mitchell 8, Murray 7, Porras 7, Oates 5, Carey 4, Agbor-Baiyee 2.
A — Hogan 20, Jackson 9, Hebron 7, Radford 6, Williams 4, Wise Jr. 3, Cunningham 3 Slocum 1.
Half: 27-20, ATH
Other scores from around Howard County:
Hammond (2-0) — 64, Edgewood — 51
Guard Robert Gordon did something Monday night that he hadn’t accomplished in 24 games last season.
The 6-foot senior went off for 25 points, helping the Golden Bears secure a 13-point home win and start the season 2-0.
Joining Gordon in double figures was forward Jalen Bourne, who scored 13 points. The 6-foot-7 junior could be the inside presence Hammond lacked last season.
Ha — Gordon 25, Bourne 13, Edwards 8, Stallings 6, Henry 5, Poku 5, Evans 2.
Half: 34-24, Ha
Marriotts Ridge (1-1) — 66, South Carroll — 56
A balanced scoring effort propelled Marriotts Ridge to its first win of the year Monday night.
Five players scored eight points or more to help the Mustangs pick up a 66-56 victory over South Carroll. Sophomore guard Ira Snell and senior guard Luke Ingersoll led each scored a team-high 10 points.
After a competitive first quarter, Marriotts Ridge blew the game open in the second quarter by outscored South Carroll, 22-4. The Mustangs took a 36-14 lead into intermission, held a 21-point lead after three periods and coasted from there.
Next up for the Mustangs is a road tilt against Wilde Lake (0-2) on Wednesday night.
MR — Snell 10, Ingersoll 10, Held 9, Cole Brown 8, Lee 8, Turner 6, Demirel 6, Stepke 4, Cam Brown 2, Brennan 2, Ross 1.
Half: 36-14, MR
River Hill (3-0) — 82, Manchester Valley — 43
River Hill improved to 4-0 with a blowout nonconference victory at Manchester Valley.
Senior Jacob Krause led the Hawks with 16 points, while fellow senior Jaden Martin stuffed the stat sheeting, scoring 13 points, dishing 10 assists and grabbing six rebounds. Senior Luke Champion followed up a two-point performance Friday with 12 points versus Manchester Valley.
The Hawks return to conference play Wednesday night when they face Hammond.
RH — Krause 16, Martin 13, Champion 12, McKenna 8, Okojie 7, Krakat 7, Mann 6, Hirsch 6, Daniels 5, Uecker 1.
Half: 43-14, RH
Westminster — 59, Howard (0-3) — 50
Ho — Blanco 21, O’Connor 8, Dawkins 5, Johnson 5, Williams 4, Agbai 4, Kim 3.
Half: 37-21, W
St. Vincent Pallotti — 74, Glenelg Country (0-3 MIAA A, 2-5 overall) — 50
Patterson Mill — 85, Mt. Hebron (0-3) — 67