Senior guard Jacob Krause scored 21 points to help the Hawks remain undefeated in county play. (Kyle Stackpole / BSMG)
HOWARD COUNTY, MD — River Hill boys basketball coach Matt Graves needed a way to immediately halt his team’s defensive rebounding woes. It plagued the Hawks in two games at the Paint Branch Holiday Hoopfest last week and would likely hurt them Wednesday night when they returned to county play.
“We knew going on that Oakland Mills, as athletic as they are, they’re going to get a lot of offensive rebounds,” Graves said. “Our game plan was to try to control the glass, win some 50/50 balls and not let second and third shots.”
To do so, he utilized a new lineup. Instead of using four guards and a frontcourt player — either junior OJ Okojie or senior Dylan Daniels — like he had in River Hill’s first eight games, Graves played the two 6-foot-6 big men together at times.
Those moments, like at the end of the first half and throughout the third quarter, were crucial to the Hawks holding onto a 68-58 win.
“They did really well together,” said senior guard Jacob Krause, who led all scorers with 21 points. “They both set screens well and rolled to the basket well, and then made layups when they were open.”
Their impact wasn’t limited to the defensive end, either. In addition to swatting several shots, Daniels and Okojie combined to score 22 points and grab several offensive boards that resulted in easy second-chance points. Senior guards Jaden Martin (11 points) and Luke Champion (10 points) were the other Hawks players to score in double figures.
The back-and-forth affair started to favor River Hill (4-0 county, 8-1 overall) late in the second quarter. Trailing, 27-23, the Hawks’ big lineup put together an 11-0 run that Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said changed the complexion of the game. In an instant, the Scorpions faced with a seven-point deficit at the break.
Six of those points — a four-point play and an acrobatic layup — came courtesy of Krause, who carried the first-half scoring load while Martin, the team’s leading scorer entering the contest, was held scoreless.
“He’s fantastic,” Browne said of Krause. “He knocks it down, he gets to the rim, the floaters always go, the kiss off the glass. He can do it all, man. He’s really fun to watch. He’s a nightmare to play against. I just really like his game.”
Browne went on to praise Martin and how River Hill’s offense always seems to run through him, and that’s exactly what transpired in the second half Wednesday. He scored 10 points in the third quarter and continued to control his team as it went up by 15 with about four minutes to play.
Meanwhile, Browne saw the Scorpions throw up ill-advised shots against the Hawks’ unexpected 3-2 zone and rarely go after the errant attempts.
Graves began to see both teams wear down offensively as the second half progressed. So, with a comfortable advantage, he switched out his big lineup and returned to playing man-to-man, which the Hawks have done all season. The Scorpions made a few mini runs but never seriously threatened before the final buzzer.
Depending on River Hill’s opponent, Graves is open to reusing that alternate lineup going forward. Of course, the Hawks lose a shooter when Okojie and Daniels are both on the floor, but sometimes that size proves more beneficial than another scoring option.
For proof, look no further than their triumph on Wednesday night.
“They do enjoy playing with each other. They’re good friends,” Graves said. “But at the same time, I like using both of them to rotate for each other because I can maximize both of them rather than maximize them for five minutes and, all of the sudden, they’re both exhausted.”
River Hill (4-0 county, 8-1 overall) — 68, Oakland Mills (2-2, 5-3) — 58
Reservoir has won five of its past six games since a season-opening 74-51 loss to Largo.
The Gators seem to have a different leading scorer each game, and on Wednesday night, junior Josh Odunowo played that role with a team-high 16 points. Senior Donye’ Moore has also emerged as a reliable scorer. He put in 13 points — his fourth straight double-figure scoring game — while continuing to guard their opponent’s top player, coach Mike Coughlan said.
A lights-out shooting performance propelled Glenelg to a dominant home win over Wilde Lake.
The Gladiators reached their season-high scoring total by making 13 out of their 20 shots from behind the arc. Six of those treys came from junior guard Johnny Piwowarski (19 points), while senior forward Ryan Davis added 17 points and stuffed the stat sheet. The team’s leading scorer added 17 rebounds, six blocks and four steals.
Controlling the tempo was senior guard Garrett Mills (10 points and 10 assists), and coach Jansen McMillan praised junior Dan Soltis for his defensive work on Wilde Lake standout Trea Keys, who finished with seven points.
Glenelg will bring its 3-1 county record to River Hill on Friday night.
G — Piwowarski 18, Davis 17, Soltis 13, Mills 10, Koele 7, Dick 6, Boswell 4, Owens 2, Saglimbeni 2, Chappell 2, Taylor 1, Trawick 1.
WL — Hunter 19, Marshall 8, Greene 7, Keys 7, Johnson 5, Zimmerman 2, Woods 2, Joseph 2, Chamblee 2, Van Tassel 2.
Marriotts Ridge has now one three straight after a close home win against Hammond.
Following a holiday tournament title, the Mustangs hung on for the four-point win thanks to a combined 35-point performance from juniors Brandon Held and Amari Little. Held, the most recent Player of the Week, is aeraging 18.8 points in his past four games.
Senior guard Cameron Stallings led Hammond, which has dropped five of its past six games.
MR — Held 18, Little 17, Snell 13, Cole Brown 7, Stepke 6, Lee 5, Brennan 3.
Ha — Stallings 20, Henry 12, Bourne 11, Gordon 11, Evans 6, Poku 5.
Long Reach (2-2, 4-5) — 48, Howard (1-3, 2-7) — 46
Josh Jones’ stellar senior season now includes a game-winner.
With the game tied at 46 and less than five seconds to play, Jones drove to the rim, pulled up and finished a 5-footer to put Long Reach ahead for good. Jones, who scored a total of 55 points last season, exceeded that total in four games this year. He’s the Lightning’s leader scorer at 15.1 points per contest.
His performance overshadowed another 20-point night from Howard senior Andrew Blanco, who’s been phenomenal for the Lions despite their lopsided record.
LR — Jones 23, Davis 11, Martin 5, Raymond 3, Young 2, Shupe 2, Casserly 2.
Ho — Blanco 20, Johnson 10, Agbai 6, Dawkins 6, Roberson 2, O’Connor 2.
Atholton snapped its three-game losing streak by going ahead in the third quarter against Mt. Hebron and then hanging on for the seven-point victory.
The Raiders scored 24 points in that period and put together a 40-point second half, largely behind the efforts of juniors Donald Robinson (14 points) and Casey Parkins (10 points). Parkins at scored at least 10 points in eight straight games.