Mt. Hebron junior guard Brandon Prox talks about the Vikings' 73-65 home win over the Lightning on Jan. 9. (Kyle Stackpole / BSMG staff)
HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Mt. Hebron was in dire need of a spark to start the second half in Tuesday afternoon’s game against Long Reach.
A lackluster defensive effort resulted in the Lightning exploding for 40 points in the opening 16 minutes, putting them on pace to exceed the scoring total from their 70-58 win over the Vikings on Dec. 8. Vikings leading scorer Brandon Prox did his part, scoring seven first-half points, but he didn’t receive the complementary production needed to avoid a double-digit halftime deficit.
So, out of the break, Prox took it upon himself to raise the team’s intensity, and he did so in the form of lights out 3-point shooting. He made three long balls in the opening four minutes of the third quarter to bring Mt. Hebron within 43-39. His fourth triple, which came with under a minute left in the period, extended the Vikings’ lead to seven.
The Lightning ended up allowing 28 points in the third frame while scoring just seven, a game-changing sequence they could not recover from in an eventual 73-65 road defeat.
“It was almost like demoralizing,” coach Andrew Lazzor said. “They were knocking down every shot that they shoot. But as a coach, you try to call the right set; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
While Prox (game-high 21 points) spearheaded Mt. Hebron’s second-half charge, junior guard Ryan Kinloch made sure it maintained the advantage. After not being part of the first-half rotation, Kinloch entered the game after intermission to spell one of the Vikings big men in foul trouble.
Kinloch served as a versatile defender but also found his offensive rhythm by driving to the basket and either finishing layups or getting fouled. He scored six points in the third quarter and the Vikings’ first 10 points of the fourth quarter to ensure his team wouldn’t fall victim to a Lightning comeback.
He then iced the victory by making all eight of his late-game free throws.
“We’re not winning that game without Ryan’s big second half,” Prox said. “He played phenomenal. That’s something he should do every night, and he did it tonight, and that was key to our victory.”
Coach Mike Linsenmeyer, meanwhile, chose to focus on the other contributions Kinloch made that helped flip the game in the Vikings’ favor.
While Mt. Hebron had its second-highest scoring total this season, Linsenmeyer and Prox believe their team came out victorious on Tuesday afternoon because of defensive effort in the second half. Long Reach (3-3, 5-6) scored at will early on, regardless of what defense it faced. The Vikings kept up for much of the opening half but fell victim to a 16-4 Lightning run going into the break.
Much of that production came from seniors Pierre Young and Josh Jones, who combined to finish with 22 points, and sophomore Darelle Raymond Jr. (10 points).
In the second half, Mt. Hebron shut down that trio and limited everyone aside from senior Tyri Davis, who scored all seven of the Lightning’s points in the third quarter. He finished with a team-high 18 points.
However, his individual effort wasn’t nearly enough to prevent a hungry and hot-shooting Mt. Hebron squad from earning its second league win of the season.
Centennial avenged its season-opening defeat to Atholton on Dec. 8 by holding the Raiders to a season-low scoring total in its 52-45 win.
Senior forward Hayden Ford, who scored a team-high 18 points the first time these two teams met, led the Eagles with 13 points on Tuesday night. Senior guard Sean Taylor added 10 points and now has scored in double-digits the past eight games.
Junior guard Casey Parkins led the Raiders with 20 points.