There were a lot of firsts for the Glenelg Country boys basketball team in its season opening win over Chapelgate on Monday night.
It marked the Dragons’ first game with coach Garrett O'Donnell, who replaced Kevin Quinlan in April, and without Anthony Longpre, last year’s co-Howard County Player of the Year who now plays at Saint Joseph's University. In fact, O’Donnell said the Dragons enter the 2017-18 campaign without six of the top seven players from last year.
However, their lack of varsity experience held little meaning in a convincing 69-45 victory over their rival in the Route 40 Classic. Sophomore Jordan Oates, playing in his first varsity game, led all players with 19 points off the bench, while junior Chase Paar and senior Caidon Owen also scored in double figures.
O’Donnell was pleased with the result but added he will not be evaluating this team’s success based solely on wins and losses.
“I’m going to judge this year on effort and growth,” O'Donnell said. “We’ve got such a young an inexperienced group that I think everything that they see, they will be seeing for the first time. So when they see it the second and third time, will they be able to adapt, adjust and overcome it?”
Seeing varsity action for the first time, Oates thrived. Upon entering the game early in the second quarter, he made a pair of free throws on two consecutive trips down the floor to put Glenelg Country (1-0) up, 21-16.
Oates also played a big part in the Dragons’ 10-0 run in the final 2 minutes, 55 seconds before the break that broke the game open. He converted a layup and a shot from beyond the arc to help his team build a 13-point halftime lead.
“I just knew I had to play my hardest so I could stay in the game,” Oates said. “And defense is the most important part of our team, so I tried my hardest on the defensive end.”
With Oates back on the bench, Glenelg Country opened the second half with a layup from sophomore Jarod Robinson and a 3-pointer courtesy of Owen (15 points). Chapelgate junior Odell Dickerson (14 points) broke the six-plus-minute scoring drought, but by that point, the game appeared out of reach.
Midway through the third quarter, the Yellowjackets (1-2) faced a 38-20 hole.
“We started out good, but we got really undisciplined and frustrated in the second half,” coach Frick Frierson said. “Frustrated with each other, and just not staying with our offense.”
Frierson said the Yellowjackets became impatient offensively because his players starting to think “they can bring the team back by themselves.” They tried to make 1-on-1 plays without passing or moving without the ball, which resulted in turnovers and errant shot attempts.
Still, it’s a fixable issue, Frierson said, and one senior Blake Hatcher believes doesn’t have to necessarily be corrected between the lines.
“Just at the lunch table, or when we’re joking around, just get serious and talk about the game,” Hatcher said. “Talk about how instead of trying to go 1-on-1, we can work together as a team and bring home a W.”