Oakland Mills entered this season with high expectations, touted as a potential Class 1A state champion.
The No. 16-ranked Scorpions lived up to those expectations at home last night, easily putting away No. 19 Atholton, 78-62, in a Howard County league game.
Oakland Mills (5-1 overall, 4-0 league) won with a combination of pressure defense, good ball handling, and the offensive prowess of Anthony Breland and Murray Graves, 6-foot-5 senior forwards who each scored 24 points and had eight rebounds.
"This was the game of the year for us so far," said Breland, who also had seven assists. "We were excited about it."
Atholton (4-2, 3-1), which has won four of the last five Howard County titles, defeated Oakland Mills twice last season.
"Oakland Mills played with a purpose, much more so than we did," Atholton coach Jim Albert said. "They forced turnovers, and we missed easy shots due to their pressure."
Atholton committed 21 turnovers; Oakland Mills had just six.
"That's the best I've seen their guards play," Albert said.
The Scorpions, who have a lot of depth at guard, rotated six players at the position: Thomas Browne (seven points), Myke Price (eight points), Robert Roche (four points), Julian Barfield (seven points), Joey Ellis and Davon Smith.
That depth helped wear down Atholton in the fourth quarter, when the tired Raiders eased up on defense, allowing the Scorpions to hit a 10-for-10 streak from the field. The Scorpions shot 11-for-15 from the field that quarter and 33-for-66 for the game.
Oakland Mills, which has lost only to Frederick's Thomas Johnson, pulled away 15-9 after the first quarter and led 41-29 at halftime.
Graves sat out five minutes of the second quarter in foul trouble. During his absence, Atholton's Brian Boykins scored 12 of his 20 points. He had 12 rebounds, as well, for the game.
"That was the best I've seen Murray [Graves] play around the boards," Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby said. "In the first half, we got a lot of second shots."
Atholton's inside game was its strength, as forwards Steve Waddy scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds and Jason Allmond scored 11 points and had seven rebounds. The Raiders got only 12 points from their guards.
"They are a talented and well-coached team and put on quite an exhibition," Albert said of Oakland Mills. "I didn't think this would happen. But that's basketball. We'll regroup."
Pub Date: 12/24/98