Howard County, MD — Mt. Hebron boys basketball is the hottest team in the county, and Brandon Prox is a significant reason why.
The junior guard and three-year starter leads the Vikings (7-5 county, 10-8 overall) in scoring at 16.1 points per game and has produced even more on the offensive end during the team’s six-game winning streak. He averaged 17 points over that stretch to help Mt. Hebron pick up wins over Oakland Mills and Glenelg on back-to-back nights. The Vikings followed up those performances by handing River Hill its first county loss on Saturday and then beating Hammond on Wednesday night.
Prox recently spoke with boys basketball beat reporter Kyle Stackpole to discuss his career development and Mt. Hebron’s recent success.
Q: What was it like to start on varsity as a freshman?
A: It’s almost weird because it felt like every game I had to come prove a point that I deserved to be there because no one expects a freshman [to contribute.] But it feels like you have to prove something and put the chip on your shoulder, which I feel made me play even better.
During your freshman season, when did you realize you could excel on the varsity level?
After the Oakland Mills game. If you didn’t know, Oakland Mills was like the best my freshman year. They were amazing. After that game, some of the guys came up and talked to me. It meant a lot because they were the best in the county by far, and those kids came up and showed some respect, so I was like, ‘All right, I guess I can play.’
What was the biggest thing you learned from playing varsity basketball your freshman year?
Probably just confidence. I was coming into games knowing I could run with them, I could play with the older kids. It was more of a confidence thing.
What has been your development been like from freshman year to this season?
I’ve just been working harder, trusting in my shot better. My teammates all tell me to shoot the ball, so they trust me. It’s coming out looking to score versus just trying to help the team win. When I was passing the ball or I was scoring, we were winning the games.
In addition to yourself, who else has made contributions to help the Vikings put together this winning streak?
Evan [Ichrist], our freshman, he’s completely devoted to getting the assist and helping the team win. He’s the least selfish player I’ve ever met. And then Ryan [Kinloch]. I would say he’s one of the hardest working kids in the county by far hustle-wise. He puts out 100-percent effort every night.
And then Justin [Cargiulo], our power forward, all he does is hit the boards, box out and he looks like he’s having fun just doing the hard grit work. And then Alex [Nazaire] does everything. Alex scores, rebounds, passes, so Alex is huge to the team, too. And then people off the bench, like Terrell Coleman the other night hit the big shot [in a win over Glenelg]. We all trust him. Kobi [Crump] gets in, puts up points, passes, everything. It’s a whole team effort right now. Everybody is just clicking together.
Your team started the season a little slow but have since won six of the past seven games. What has been the difference during that stretch?
Howard County Times: Top stories
The mindset. At practices, we’re all getting after each other, like talking trash. The mindset that we all can play and that we all should be playing to our highest level and that we can run with any team in the county.
When did you realize this team could not only stay with the better county opponents but actually beat them?
Probably that Long Reach game [on Jan. 9] because we were down a lot at halftime and we went back into the locker room and were like, “We’re not playing our game, and we just have to play like we always can.” And that came out [in the second half]. After the game, we said, “We should do that every night, like that second half was unbelievable, and that’s what the team should be like.”
Mt. Hebron is currently above .500 in county play and 10-8 overall. What does this group have to do going forward to continue this run and end the season with a winning record for the first time in your career?
We just have to play our game and not worry about the other teams as well as just keeping focused.
What are some other goals this team has entering the final stretch of the regular season and the playoffs?
We just want to push in the playoffs to see how far we can get. I feel like we can beat any team on a given night, so we can push a regional championship maybe if we all play our best games. So that was our expectation: to win a few playoff games this year.