No. 16-ranked Oakland Mills rose to the challenge of playing without Anthony Breland and his 23-point, Howard County League-leading scoring average yesterday.
Breland sprained his ankle in last Friday's win over Atholton, but the Scorpions (15-3 overall, 13-1 league), still defeated rival Long Reach, 76-68. The Lightning (7-11, 6-8) had won three of its last four games.
Oakland Mills' pressing defense and the play of its guards, particularly Myke Price (17 points), made the difference and gave the Scorpions their seventh straight victory.
Cyril Chesson, who played for Long Reach last season, scored eight points as Breland's replacement.
The win also kept intact a three-game Oakland Mills league lead with four games to play.
"We said all year we have the depth to handle injuries, and we proved it tonight," Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby said. "This is a big rivalry, and I'm happy with the way we played. We got good guard play and we got to the line more than we normally do."
The Scorpions shot 16-for-26 from the line, as Price made six free throws in the fourth period, including four in the final 34 seconds. Price also hit one of his three timely three-pointers during that period.
"I just played at an extra level because I knew we all had to step up," Price said.
Price, Tom Browne (five points), Davon Smith (eight points), Joey Ellis (12 points), Robert Roche and Julian Barfield rotate at the guard positions and that depth allows the Scorpions to stay fresh despite playing a constant pressing defense.
"Their press turned it around. We got sluggish in the third and fourth quarters," said Eddie Collins, Long Reach's only senior. He scored 15 points and had six rebounds.
The Lightning received balanced scoring from Michael Holmes, who had 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists; Robert Francois (11 points, five assists, four steals); Kerry Simms (eight points, seven rebounds), and Tally White (10 points, four rebounds, four assists).
Long Reach led throughout the first half and at halftime, 30-26.
Murray Graves of Oakland Mills, who paced Oakland Mills with 23 points and 10 rebounds, sat out half of the second quarter in foul trouble.
Price's three-point basket in the third quarter gave Oakland Mills its first lead since early in the game, 36-35. Graves then hit a 15-footer and scored off a put-back to increase the lead to 40-35.
Long Reach never recovered the lead despite a wild fourth quarter in which the Scorpions outscored Long Reach, 32-28.
Pub Date: 2/10/99