COLLEGE PARK -- North Dorchester coach Vic Burns summed up in one sentence the reason for his team's 53-50 defeat of Oakland Mills in the Class 1A state semifinals yesterday at Cole Field House.
"They panicked and started throwing up threes, and that's not their game," Burns said.
The Eagles (22-3) ended Oakland Mills' season and 14-game winning streak by shooting 43.5 percent from the floor. Oakland Mills, the Baltimore area's No. 9-ranked team, hit only a third of its shots despite outfiring North Dorchester, 71-46.
Offensively, Oakland Mills' guards came up short. Not only did they shoot 5-for-30 (16.6 percent) from the floor and 1-for-11 from three-point range, they failed to get the ball often enough into the hands of their go-to performers, Anthony Breland and Murray Graves.
Breland (10 rebounds) shot 11-for-25 from the floor and scored 23 points. Graves (eight rebounds) shot 6-for-14 and scored 13 points. That was a combined 17-for-39 or 43.5 percent -- the same as North Dorchester's overall team shooting percentage.
"We took some bad shots and missed some we normally make," Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby said. "We had momentum at the end. It was a matter of staying patient at both ends."
Oakland Mills (22-4) had a chance to tie with four seconds left. But an inbounds pass in their offensive end of the court found Graves in the lane, and from short range, he shot and missed.
"We told them we needed a three-point shot, and instead we take a two-point 5-footer," Appleby said. "I don't know why. We wanted to find Breland in the corner."
Defensively, Oakland Mills did what it needed to do to have won the game. The Scorpions forced 25 North Dorchester turnovers, including eight apiece by the Eagles' two top players, point guard Reggie Parker (nine points, six assists) and 6-foot-6 forward Carlton Dotson (29 points, 12 rebounds). And the Scorpions held a team averaging 72.5 points to just 53.
Scorpions guard Davon Smith had seven steals, including six first-half steals that sparked an Oakland Mills comeback from an opening 10-0 deficit to a 23-22 Scorpions' halftime lead.
North Dorchester has never won a state title and was making only its second trip to the final four. This tournament marked Oakland Mills' seventh final four; its only state title was in 1990.
The Eagles realized Oakland Mills was a team that thrived on an up-tempo style.
"We felt they'd be in trouble if we could dictate a medium pace," Burns said. "Not fast. Not slow. That's our tempo."
Oakland Mills trailed 47-40 in the fourth quarter, but a three-point basket by Tom Browne with 4: 19 to play started a Scorpions comeback.
Oakland Mills capitalized on three of four North Dorchester turnovers down the stretch until Browne's layup tied it 50-50 with 1: 02 to play.
Dotson scored for North Dorchester, and Graves was called for an offensive foul with 26 seconds left. Dotson made one of two free throws for a 53-50 lead.
"One game doesn't determine a season," Appleby said. "[Going] 22-4 is nothing to sneeze at."
TV show today
The Baltimore Sun High School Sports Show is broadcast at 2 p.m. Saturdays on WBAL-TV, Ch. 11. The show features coverage of the week's best events, boys and girls athletes of the week and a coach of the week. A student-athlete is also profiled weekly.
Pub Date: 3/13/99