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Defensive pressure, foul shooting lift Oakland Mills boys basketball past Centennial

Oakland Mills at Centennial boys basketball

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Anticipating passes. Constantly moving. Playing with energy and communicating with teammates.

These were all points of emphasis before Oakland Mills' 60-45 road win against Centennial on Friday night, all actions coach Jon Browne needed to see from his players defensively after a lethargic effort in their loss to Mt. Hebron the night before.

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Their response was game-changing. Using a full-court press and a half-court 3-2 zone, the Scorpions deflected perimeter passes and clogged interior passing lanes, which created 11 first-half turnovers that led to several easy scoring chances. They built a 29-16 advantage by halftime.

A turnover-heavy third quarter meant Oakland Mills couldn't set up its zone as much, and Centennial capitalized on fast breaks and second-chance opportunities to tie the game at 33 entering the final frame. But that defensive intensity returned down the stretch, which Browne's team paired with lights-out foul shooting to produce a massive fourth-quarter run that iced the victory.

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The Scorpions (6-3 county, 9-4 overall) have now won four of their past five county games.

"Obviously the third quarter was disappointing, but I'm really happy with the first half," Browne said. "One of the best first halves we've played all year."

Oakland Mills set the tone from the opening tip by causing three turnovers on Centennial's first three possessions. By the time the Eagles scored their first field goal — a putback from senior Hayden Ford almost four minutes into the game — they were already down, 8-3.

Ford's early production would continue, as he scored six of the team's seven points in the opening frame, but it took until after the break for the Eagles to start clicking on offense.

Meanwhile, Oakland Mills used a barrage of 3-point plays and hit nearly all of its free throws to enter the visiting locker room with a 13-point advantage.

"Our defense came out very aggressive in the first half," said senior Mister Hairston, who joined junior Daeshawn Eaton (team-high 17 points) and Ke'von Simpson (13 points) in double figures. "In the third quarter, we kind of slept on the defensive end, but then we picked it back up towards the end of the game and that led us to the win."

Brent Kennedy, Tim Schwartz and Kyle Stackpole discuss the latest in Howard County sports in this edition of Howard County Times Sports Podcast.

Brent Kennedy starts the podcast by asking Kyle Stackpole about the boys basketball teams who have shown they can compete with River Hill atop the county.

At the 1:30 mark, Kyle touches on Wilde Lake, which seems to have found its rhythm after a tough start to the season. Brent and Kyle also talk about who among the other middle-tier teams have the potential to jump into the top tier.

At the 7:20 mark, Kyle sits down with River Hill seniors Jacob Krause, Jaden Martin and Dylan Daniels and asks the trio about their current success, the emergence of Krause as a scoring threat and what the Hawks can still improve on.

The focus shifts to the county landscape at the 10:58 mark, with the players describing some teams they think have overachieved or underperformed and the opposing players that have stood out this year. The players also give their Super Bowl picks.

With River Hill’s toughest stretch of the season on the horizon, the trio explains at the 17:25 mark what needs to happen for the team to keep winning games. Do that, and the Hawks will be county champions for the second straight year.

Browne said his players "got a little cute" in the third quarter, a playing style he specifically warned against at halftime. Between Simpson's layup early in the period and two free throws from junior Jaelen Gaymon late in the frame, Oakland Mills endured about a four-minute scoring drought. In fact, those were the only points the Scorpions scored the entire eight minutes. Seemingly every other possession ended in a turnover.

Both coaches admitted Centennial's defense certainly played a part in that sloppiness. And when the Eagles (4-5, 6-7) started to run their typical offense, coach Chad Hollwedel said, they began to chip away at the deficit.

"When we made a decision to try and run our stuff together, we looked good," Hollwedel said. "We picked up our energy in the third quarter. I definitely think I challenged the kids at halftime about how they wanted to look and how they wanted to respond."

In Hollwdell's opinion, the momentum flipped when Ford (team-high 16 points) picked up his fourth foul with 5:35 to play. The Eagles no longer possessed a defensive force inside who could freely challenge shots, prompting Oakland Mills to attack the basket with even greater frequency.

As a result, the Scorpions attempted 17 free throws in the fourth quarter — itself an impressive feat — and then silenced the crowd by making 15 of those attempts. They finished the game 25-for-31 (about 80 percent) from the charity strike.

For Browne, it was an impressive end to a quality road victory.

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"We talked about how they're going to throw that punch, and we got to be able to take that punch and counter, and that's really exactly what happened," Browne said. "We didn't get down on ourselves — we made some mistakes — but we had enough gusto to regain that advantage."

Oakland Mills (6-3 county, 9-4 overall) — 60, Centennial (4-5, 6-7) — 45

OM — Eaton 17, Hairston 14, Simpson 13, Greggs 8, Gaymon 4, McFadden 3, Looper 1.

C — Ford 16, Eudell 5, Hollwedel 5, Taylor 5, Hohmann 4, Berkeley 3, Hill 3, Kefyalew 2, Smith 2.

Half: 29-16, OM

Around Howard County

River Hill (8-0, 13-1) — 70, Atholton (4-5, 5-9) — 58

Senior guard Jaden Martin continued his Player of the Year caliber season as River Hill picked up a quality road win over Atholton.

Through three quarters, Martin tallied 11 points, and the Hawks held a two-point advantage. But in the final period, Martin "took the game over," coach Matt Graves said. His first-team All-County performer exploded for 15 points in the final eight minutes to close out yet another county victory.

RH — Martin 26, Okojie 10, Krause 9, Champion 8, McKenna 8, Daniels 4, Mann 3, Krakat 2.

A — Parkins 22, Oates 13, Murray 10, Daniel 5, Robinson 4, Carey 2, Mitchell 2.

Half: 25-22, RH

Mt. Hebron (5-5, 7-8) — 63, Glenelg (4-4, 6-7) — 60

Make that two standout wins for Mt. Hebron in as many nights.

Thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Terrell Coleman, Mt. Hebron followed up its win at Oakland Mills on Thursday night with a 63-60 home win against Glenelg on Friday. All of the sudden, the Vikings have won three of their past four county games and sit at .500 in county play.

MH — Nazaire 20, Ichrist 10, Prox 10, Cargiulo 7, Bates 5, Coleman 5, Crump 4, Ryan Kinloch 2.

G — Davis 18, Piwowarski 17, Mills 8, Dick 6, Koele 5, Taylor 4, Chappell 2.

Half: 28-28

Wilde Lake (4-4, 5-8) — 69, Long Reach (3-5, 5-8) — 59

Make that three straight county wins for Wilde Lake, which received a dominant effort from senior center Gerald Van Tassel.

As expected, junior Trey Keys led the team in scoring (16 points). But Van Tassel pitched in a season-high 15 points and ripped down 18 rebounds. He hadn't scored more than nine points in a single game until Friday night.

With a home game against Howard coming up on Monday, the Wildecats have a solid chance to move above .500 in county play for the first time this season.

WL — Keys 16, Van Tassel 15, Marshall 10, Hunter 10, Zimmerman 8, Williams 5, Greene 4, Joseph 1.

LR — Jones 11, Young 11, Raymond Jr. 9, Martin 8, Modeste 7, Davis 5, Lee 3, Thompson Jr. 3, Shupe 2.

Half: 38-27, WL

Hammond (3-3, 5-7) — 58, Howard (1-7, 2-11) — 38

In shutting down visiting Howard on offense, Hammond secured a double-digit road win to even its county record. Its three-headed scoring monster of senior Robert Gordon and juniors Micah Henry and Jalen Bourne combined to score 46 points.

Senior guard Andrew Blanco scored a team-high 15 points for the Lions.

Ha — Gordon 19, Henry 15, Bourne 12, Stallings 5, Miller 4, Burgess 2, Edwards 1.

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Ho — Blanco 15, Harris 9, Taylor 6, Autry 3, Simmons 3, Wilson 2.

Half: 28-7, Ha

Marriotts Ridge (2-6, 6-8) — 48, Reservoir (5-2, 7-4) — 47

Marriotts Ridge snapped its three-game county losing streak with a big-time road win over one of the league's top teams so far this year.

Behind a stout defensive effort, the Mustangs hung on to defeat Reservoir on Friday night, handing the Gators just their second county loss of the season.

Mustangs junior forward Brandon Held led all scorers with 17 points, while senior Luke Ingersoll added eight points and juniors Amari Little and Cole Brown chipped in seven points a apiece.

Entering the contest, Marriotts Ridge was allowing county opponents to score 60.9 points per game. That number changed drastically against the Gators, which helped the Mustangs earn their second league victory.

Re Okolo 9, McCallum 7, Toler 6, Saunderson 5, Diarra 4, Odunowo 4, Soto 4, Moore 3, Harrison 2, Ricketts 2, Bradford 1.

MR — Held 17, Ingersoll 8, Cole Brown 7, Little 7, Brennan 3, Lee 3, Snell 3.

Half: 19-17, Re

Chapelgate (3-4 MIAA B Conference, 12-8) — 64, St. John's Catholic Prep — 52

CH — Hatcher 17, Morant 11, Dickerson 10, Heard 9, Wise 9, Wesley 6, Cofield 2.

Half: 36-17, CH

Boys' Latin — 58, Glenelg Country (2-7 MIAA A Conference, 5-11) — 41

GCS - Owen 11, Robinson 10, Chase Paar 7 (21 rebounds), Hornatko 6, Swartz 3, Charles 2, Cole Paar 2.

Half: 22-21, GCS

Reach Kyle Stackpole at kstackpole@baltsun.com or follow him on Twitter @kylefstackpole

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