Oakland Mills senior forward Robert Burgess talks about the Scorpions' 65-54 home win over Atholton on Jan. 12 (Kyle Stackpole / BSMG).
HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Oakland Mills boys basketball coach Jon Browne said his group has been a second-half team all season, so it was unusual to see the Scorpions play so poorly out of the break in Friday night’s 65-54 win over visiting Atholton.
Browne called a timeout less than two minutes into the third quarter. He couldn’t stand to see another turnover after watching three in the first few possessions of the period. He also could sense his team was in danger of surrendering its six-point lead.
“We just got really lackadaisical and comfortable when normally in the second half, we’ve kind of been putting the pedal to the medal and blowing some teams out as of late,” Browne said. “We just didn’t have that killer instinct, we didn’t have that energy or effort.”
Yet out of the timeout, senior forward Mister Hairston (12 points) scored the next six points to put Oakland Mills up by double digits. And from there, the Scorpions made enough plays on the defensive end and in transition to overcome an inconsistent performance.
“The key details of winning were rebounding and defense,” said 6-foot-6 senior Robert Burgess, who finished with 15 points. “And the press, too, helped us a lot.”
Twenty-one offensive rebounds were also beneficial, but they rarely led to points for Oakland Mills (5-2 county, 8-3 overall) on the scoreboard. Time after time, a Scorpions player would swoop in for the board but leave his shot attempt short or clank it off the rim. Of the seemingly countless second-chance opportunities, several possessions ended without points.
Other scoring opportunities came easy as a result of their constant defensive pressure, and those were the buckets that kept the Scorpions in front as the second half progressed.
Finishing of lot of those transition opportunities was Oakland Mills junior and leading scorer Daeshawn Eaton, whose 22-point effort was a byproduct of his shooting success inside the 3-point arc and at the foul line, where he made 10 of his 12 attempts.
Atholton junior Casey Parkins matched Eaton in the scoring column but received little help offensively from the typically reliable Justin Oates and Maxwell Murray.
“Our kids played hard,” Raiders coach Jared Albert said. “It wasn’t a lack of effort. Just mental mistakes that we made on our part, and we gave them some easy ones.”
Albert has frequently preached to his team the importance of consistency — the Raiders have yet to win back-to-back games this season — but the message didn’t result in sustained production. The Raiders rarely missed early on, taking leads of 9-2 and 15-6 and entering the second period with a five-point advantage. And even when Oakland Mills erased that deficit to take the lead in the second quarter, the teams proceeded to trade baskets the next few minutes.
The tipping point for Atholton came after Oakland Mills called a timeout with 2 minutes, 21 seconds to play before halftime. Trailing by three, the Raiders succumbed to constant ball pressure. The Scorpions turned those poor possessions into points on the other end — specifically two open layups and a free throw — and entered intermission up, 36-28.
Browne said various factors contributed to the team’s uneven second half. His players were worn out from pressing, and he was concerned about its depth without junior Jaelen Gaymon, who injured his leg early in the game. He also thought the unusually warm temperature in the gym caused increased fatigue.
The Scorpions’ performance suffered as a result, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them from reeling off their third straight league victory.
“Just happy to get the win,” Browne said. “If you don’t play great and get the win at home on a Friday, there’s something to be said about that."
All hope seemed lost for Glenelg, which faced a 10-point deficit with about 90 seconds to play against Centennial. The Gladiators looked well on their way to their second straight loss scoring less than 50 points.
Then the comeback began. They strung together enough stops. They converted on the offensive end. With a few seconds to play, they were within three points.
Enter senior forward Ryan Davis.
Tied at 53, Glenelg and Centennial went to overtime, where the Gladiators dominated. Four players chipped in to help them outscore the Eagles, 12-4, in the extra period and come away with the improbable victory.
Davis led all scorers with 23 points but received much-needed offense help from senior Garrett Mills (12 points) and junior Johnny Piwowarski (11 points).
Junior Stafford Smith led the way with 13 points for Centennial, which was without two starters due to injury. Leading scorer Sean Taylor remained sidelined after suffering a hip injury against Atholton on Tuesday, but the Eagles hope to have him cleared for their next game at River Hill on Jan. 17. Senior Kaleb Addisu (concussion) also did not play.
Glenelg Country (1-6 MIAA A Conference, 4-10) — 67, Annapolis Area Christian — 56
A season-high 23 points from senior Caidon Owen helped Glenelg Country earn its first conference win of the year and its first overall since Dec. 22.
The Dragons lost four straight games entering the contest, but against Annapolis Area Christian, they built a double-digit halftime lead and put the game away in the third quarter before cruising from there. Leading scorer Chase Paar added 16 points
GCS — Owen 23, Chase Paar 16, Oates 6, Swartz 6, Hornatko 5, Cole Paar 4, Robinson 4, Charles 3.
Wilde Lake accomplished a feat on Friday night that none of Reservoir’s first five county opponents could.
Coach Deon Wingfield’s team beat the Gators in league play.
“The guys played very well tonight,” Wingfield said. “Trea played like the player of the year, and our team did a great job with rebounding tonight.”
Keys, the reigning Player of the Year, dominated on the offensive end in a way no other player came close to doing. The Wildecats also received a promising seven points from junior Marc Marshall, who along with Keys was looked at to provide much of the team’s backcourt scoring.
Marshall delivered to help the Gators fall to a league foe for the first time this season. River Hill is now the only team without a county blemish.
WL — Keys 24, Hunter 11, Marshall 7, Greene 3, Joseph 2, Williams 2, Van Tassel 2, Zimmerman 2.
Re — Toler 8, Moore 7, Odunowo 7, Okolo 7, McCallum 6, Adubi 4, Saunderson 4, Diarra 3, Bradford 3, Ricketts 2.
Half: 24-18, WL
Wilde Lake 75, Manchester Valley 49 (Thursday)
WL — Keys 22, Marshall 14, Hunter 11, Van Tassel 8, Joseph 6, Greene 4, Ali 2, Kamara 2, Williams 2, Wright 2, Woods 2.
River Hill (7-0, 12-1) — 65, Howard (1-6, 2-10) — 35
Senior guard Jaden’s Martin’s scoring tear continued in River Hill’s blowout home win on Friday night.
Martin led the Hawks with 20 points, giving him a scoring average of 21.5 points over his past four games. Unsurprisingly, senior guard Jacob Krause (12 points) also scored in double figures in the team’s fifth straight victory.