Junior Josh Odunowo discusses the Gators’ 49-46 home win over Long Reach on Dec. 13. (Kyle Stackpole / BSMG staff)
HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Some of Reservoir’s boys basketball players attributed their slow start Wednesday night to the lack of music during pregame warmups. Coach Mike Coughlan couldn’t pinpoint a reason but thought having such a young team was a possible contributing factor.
Either way, the Gators’ lackluster first-half performance included several turnovers, missed layups and a five-point deficit against Long Reach at intermission.
Those issues persisted after the break — Reservoir finished with 20 giveaways and dozens of missed shots from in close — but the Gators’ energy and hustle, Coughlan said, helped them overcome those woes to hang on for a 49-46 home win, their second in three games to start the season.
“The key to the game was defense,” junior Josh Odunowo said. “We didn’t have things going offensively, so we just had to get it through defense.”
When Reservoir (2-0 county, 2-1 overall) managed to score, it came from several different players. Odunowo (10 points) and junior Elijah Soto (nine points), led the way, but six Gators scored at least five points. The widespread production reiterated Coughlan’s preseason notion that with just three returning players and 12 juniors, the Gators would play anyone Coughlan believed could help the team win.
Seniors Tyri Davis, Josh Jones and Pierre Young combined to score 28 points for Long Reach (1-1, 2-1), but the Lightning were unable to accomplish the two tasks coach Andrew Lazzor said would result in a victory.
“In the pregame speech, I told them ‘We will win this game tonight if you do two things: if you win the rebounding battle, and if you don’t give up straight line drives,’” Lazzor said. “Both things, we did not do.”
Those failures didn’t hurt Long Reach much in the opening two quarters, where many of Reservoir’s miscues were self-inflicted. But with an increased intensity level out of the break, the Gators developed an efficient offense to pair with their stingy defense, which caused 22 turnovers. With 2 minutes, 40 seconds left in the third quarter, they finally regained the lead on a 3-pointer from junior Josh Bradford.
Bradford drilled another shot from beyond the arc early in the final frame, sparking a quick 7-2 run that gave Reservoir a five-point advantage. If the momentum wasn’t completely on the Gators side, it was there moments later. Off a errant shot, Odunowo soared through the air, grabbed the rebound and threw down a two-handed dunk all in the same motion. The home crowd erupted as its team went ahead, 41-34.
The game barely within reach, Long Reach scored nine unanswered points after Odunowo’s slam to go back ahead.
But in the final 90 seconds, the Lightning made crucial mistakes on both ends of the floor. First, the Lightning allowed Soto to get off an wide-open 3-pointer from the corner, which he swished through the net. Then came their 22nd turnover, which junior Grant Okolo turned into a breakaway layup and a three-point Reservoir advantage.
“The biggest thing was in terms of the energy level,” Coughlan said. “You can make mistakes, like we can turn the ball over and stuff, but we’re hustling and we’re getting it back, and that’s what we were doing in the second half.”
Reservoir (2-0 county, 2-1 overall) — 49, Long Reach (1-1, 2-1) — 46
Re — Odunowo 10, Soto 9, Bradford 6, Saunderson 5, Moore 5, Toler 5, Barrett 3, Okolo 2, McCallum 2, Diarra 1, Ricketts 1.
LR — Davis 11, Jones 9, Young 8, Raymond Jr. 5, Shupe 3, Thompson Jr. 2, Lee 2, Casserly 2, Olivis 2, Martin 2.
Junior guard Trea Keys carried Wilde Lake to its first win of the season Wednesday night, pouring in 32 points in a four-point home victory.
Last year’s Howard County Co-Player of the Year didn’t reach his career high scoring total — that came when he scored 34 points in an overtime loss to Oakland Mills last season — but came up just short, and the Wilde Lake needed all of those buckets to hold off the Mustangs. Keys made 8 two-point baskets, three 3-pointers and went shot 7-for-11 from the free throw line.
Senior guards Jaden Martin and Luke Champion combined to carry River Hill to its fourth straight win to open the season. Each player scored 22 points, while fellow senior guard Jacob Krause (11 points) also finished in double digits. As a result, the Hawks handed the Golden Bears their first loss of the season in dominating fashion.
After scoring a 25 points in a win over Edgewood on Monday, senior guard Robert Gordon managed just 10 points in Wednesday’s game. Junior Micah Henry, another of their top scorers, managed two field goals.
“We played efficiently on the offensive end and locked down on the defensive end,” Hawks coach Matt Graves said.