Oakland Mills forward Aislynn Riggs talks about the Scorpions’ 36-33 win over River Hill in the 2A South Region quarterfinals on Feb. 27.
Points were at a premium during Tuesday’s nip-and-tuck 2A South region quarterfinal match-up between Oakland Mills and River Hill.
Although in some ways, a grind it out, defensive battle was exactly what the host Scorpions felt the most comfortable with.
Oakland Mills made nearly three times as many free throws (20) as it did field goals (7) on the evening, but never waivered on the defensive end of the floor on its way to securing a 36-33 victory over the Hawks. Aislynn Riggs led the charge with nine points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks for a Scorpions team that advances into a regional semifinal match-up against Glenelg on Thursday.
“The close games, honestly, that’s when we seem to play our best. That’s just our style of basketball, these games that are about hard defense and being gritty,” Oakland Mills coach Walt Hagins said. “It seems to get us going in some ways, relying on big blocks and getting stops. Yes, we’ve had games where we shoot the basketball well. But we’ve also had games like tonight, where those shots don’t fall and we have to rely on our defense.”
The win marks the sixth time this season that Oakland Mills (15-8) has won a game in which it has scored fewer than 50 points.
Riggs, who locked things down in the paint all evening before tweaking her ankle late in the fourth quarter, said the team was able to draw upon some of those previous low-scoring affairs during crunch time.
“It helped to be in games like this before because it’s tough when you’re only up by a little bit and you have to keep going back-and-forth on both ends,” she said. “But defense wins games and that’s what we showed tonight. We don’t necessarily outscore teams, but we are able to beat them by just enough.”
Emily Masker (10 points) and Saniha Jackson (8) finished as the leading scorers for a River Hill (13-10) team that battled until the final whistle. The Hawks led for the majority of the first half and held a one-point, 20-19, lead entering the fourth quarter.
“I was extremely proud of the way the kids fought until the bitter end. I think the difference, as it came down to it, was foul shots,” River Hill coach Teresa Waters said. “Both teams were struggling to make field goals, so it came down to free throws being the key. We were right there, we just weren’t quite able to finish.”
Oakland Mills ended up outscoring River Hill 17-13 in the fourth quarter after managing just 19 points in the first three quarters combined. The Scorpions hit just three shots from the field in those final eight minutes — two threes by Jazmine Washington (11 points) and a jump shot by Marley Grenway (10) — but they were big ones.
Washington’s banked in three from the right corner with 3:04 left in regulation put the Scorpions ahead by seven at the time. River Hill made a late push but never got closer than the final three-point margin after that shot.
“Our big three, they’re big-time players, so I expect them to play big in the big moments,” Hagins said. “And playing big means being willing to take the shot, make the hustle play on the floor, at the end of a game even when things maybe haven’t been going their way earlier in the game. Those three have been big all year, and it was no different tonight in crunch time.”
The Gladiators came out and set the tone right from the jump, getting four first-quarter threes from Jess Foster (25 points) on the way to a 20-14 lead through the first eight minutes. Foster, Kellie Johnson (12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals) and Olivia LePage (11 points and 7 rebounds) all finished the game in double-figures scoring.
Alex Anderson (6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals) also was a solid contributor for Glenelg in the win.
Hope Morath (13 points) and Mallory Conroy (12) were the leaders for the Mustangs in the loss.
Glenelg advances to face Oakland Mills on the road Thursday in the region semifinals. The Scorpions won both meetings during the regular season.
G (16-7): Foster 25, Johnson 12, LePage 11, Anderson 6, Gillespie 2.
The Gators held off several Eagles’ runs in the second half to pull away late for the victory. Emily Dorn (23 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks) led the way, but Tiffany Hooker (16 points) and Nia Powell (11 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks) each had standout efforts as well.
Brook Anderson’s 14 points led the way for Centennial in the loss.
After trailing by 12 points at the end of the third quarter, 46-34, the Eagles got as close as six points in the final period before the comeback fell short.
“Each time it looked like we might blow it open, Centennial responded. They were able to get it to six with a few minutes to go, but huge buckets by Emily and Nia — along with fourth-quarter free throws — held them off,” Reservoir coach Deb Taylor said. “It was a typical playoff game, where no one wants their season to end and everyone brings out their best effort. I was pleased with how we held them off despite their aggressive play.”
Taylor also praised the play of point guard Nat Verna, who finished with five assists.
Reservoir advances to play at Long Reach on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Re (15-8): Dorn 23, Hooker 16, Powell 11, Abunassar 7.
C (11-12): Anderson 14, Hamshey 12, Worthy 10, Molz 5, Dossett 4, Smith 4.
Half: 32-18 Re.
Howard 76, Dulaney 54 (4A North)
The top-seeded Lions jumped out to a 22-0 lead by the late stages of the opening quarter and never looked back on the way to the victory. Taylor Addison (16 points), Madison Burris (15), Deonna Jones (13) and Camille Malagar (12) all had big offensive performances.
Howard now advances to host Catonsville on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the region semifinals. Catonsville eliminated Howard in last year’s regional championship game on the way to eventually winning a state title.
Ho (22-1): Addison 16, Burris 15, Jones 13, Malagar 12, Durkee 7, Eich 5, Furr 4, Russell 4.