First-year Howard boys basketball coach Art St. Martin had his Lions begin Monday's test against league-leading Oakland Mills in an unusual fashion.
All five starters stood in a tight, shoulder-to-shoulder circle just past the half-court line and passed the ball from one to another.
"The kids call it 'circling the wagons,' " St. Martin said.
It was a stall technique meant to frustrate Oakland Mills and get the Scorpions upset enough to play badly.
And it was also a vehicle for St. Martin to make a statement that the boys teams should have a shot clock.
"Everyone else has a shot clock but high-school boys, and I can't stand not having one," said St. Martin, a former girls coach at Brooklyn Park and women's coach at Catonsville Community College. "I did this to force someone to think about a clock. If we could have gotten a lead we would have kept it on."
Instead, Joe Ellis of Oakland Mills somehow sneaked his arms into the circle after a minute and created a jump ball. Anthony Breland, who had a banner game with 29 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two assists, quickly sank a three-point basket off the turnover.
Then Howard turned the ball over again, and Breland made a rim-punishing reverse slam dunk, quickly ending any hopes for a successful Howard stall.
The stall attempt infuriated Oakland Mills, igniting a firestorm of intensity among Scorpions players and fans that spurred the team to an 11-0 lead. That lead ballooned to 34-15 before Howard rallied, climbing back within six points, 44-38, with 4: 38 left in the third quarter.
The Scorpions then surged to 60-38 with a 16-0 run, and to 74-43 before the starters sat down.
The 79-52 victory kept Oakland Mills atop the league standings at 8-1, two games ahead of Mount Hebron and and 2 1/2 games ahead of Glenelg.
In addition to Breland, Tom Browne stung the Lions with 19 points, three steals and two assists. Ellis scored only two, but had eight rebounds, four steals and two assists. And Murray Graves scored 12 and had five rebounds.
After a promising start, the Lions have lost four straight to fall to 6-7 overall and 3-6 in the league and are circling the wagons in another way.
St. Martin has tossed two starters from the team for disciplinary reasons. And a third starter was benched at the start of Monday's game because of a disciplinary infraction.
St. Martin already is starting three sophomores and may bring up and start another sophomore from the JV team.
"We went 3-6 in the league in the first half, and now have to start thinking about the future," St. Martin said.
Sophomore Doug Weiss, who came up to the varsity five games ago, led the Lions in scoring Monday with 15 points. Seniors Ron Coursey and Lamont Thompson each scored 11. Starting sophomore point guard Derrick Weatherspoon sat out with a sprained ankle.
Eagles upset Vikings
Mount Hebron starts a frontcourt of 6-foot-5 Bob Bergin, 6-5 Eric Tobak and 6-3 Brian Williams, whose jumping ability makes him seem 6-5.
That height figured to give the Vikings a major advantage over shorter Centennial, whose tallest player is 6-3 Rob Mentz.
But Centennial sent Mount Hebron reeling to its second straight loss Monday, shocking the Vikings, 63-47.
"They broke our press easily, but we sat back in a zone and clogged up the inside," Centennial coach Jim Hill said.
That forced Mount Hebron to rely on outside shooting, and Joey Armstead (six points), the Vikings' best outside shooter and ballhandler, got in foul trouble by the second quarter. The Vikings clung to a 26-25 halftime lead.
Then Centennial broke it open.
Anthony McPhail (11 points, eight rebounds), Mentz (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Brian O'Connor (13 points) led the way for Centennial.
The Eagles, who start three sophomores, a junior and a senior, completed the first half of the league season with a 4-5 record. But three of those losses were close. They lost by one point to Howard, three points to Wilde Lake and four points to Glenelg.
Scorps JV prevails
Oakland Mills not only leads the varsity basketball standings, but the JV standings as well thanks to a buzzer-beating victory Saturday.
The Scorpions and Mout Hebron Vikings were both 7-0 in league play. And Oakland Mills seemed to have the game under control until Mount Hebron's Stefan Martiyan made two late three-point baskets to tie the game, setting up a likely overtime.
Oakland Mills had only 3.3 seconds left and the length of the court to travel in order to avert overtime.
J. T. Rembert made an in-bounds pass to Stefan Pastor, who found Lester Jones open. Jones hit a hard-driving layup for a 53-51 victory.
Pub Date: 1/27/99