Oakland Mills smooths bumps on road to state 3A final four


It was a complete rebuilding project.

Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby began practice last November without eight players and all five starters from his Class 3A state basketball champions (22-2) of one year ago.

Then came an extended football season. Six candidates reported late for basketball after helping Oakland Mills to the state semifinals. Injuries, disciplinary problems and the task of blending transfers into a formerly tight-knit program followed.

It added up to a 6-6 start. The defeats were fully one-tenth of Appleby's previous career total (152-60). So, why are the Scorpions back to defend their title starting with today's 5 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded Catonsville in College Park?

"It seems like the injuries just went away. Also, we tended to play better as roles crystallized and the kids played harder against a tough schedule," said Appleby, whose streaking team won its last eight regular-season games and 12 of 13 overall.

Oakland Mills also adjusted its offense to capitalize on the post-up abilities of imposing (6 feet 5, 220 pounds) Mark Terry.

Forward Caruthers Gant (20 ppg) closed with back-to-back 32-point games against North Hagerstown and Thomas Johnson the regionals. Forward Gregg Washington averaged 18 points and Terry 13, with a high of 30 against Hammond.

Washington and Terry, who average 6-4 1/2 , 210 pounds, also combined for 21 rebounds per game.

Point guard Travis Williams not only directed the offense (5 assists) but also emerged as "our top perimeter defensive player," Appleby said. After Thomas Johnson's Bobby Onley scored 40 points in two victories over the Scorpions, Williams held him to two in the 76-68 regional championship that vaulted Oakland Mills to College Park.

Guard Joe Coughlin developed into a solid role player, and Charles Daniels and Antoine Baker provided bench strength.

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