Woodlawn's boys basketball team has been dominant in the first couple of weeks of Baltimore County 4A/3A league play. But through most of the first half of its game at Franklin last night, the No. 11 Warriors looked off their game.
The second half was a different story as Woodlawn hounded Franklin and went on to post an 82-65 victory. In winning its eighth straight, Woodlawn (12-3, 7-0) remained tied with Randallstown for first place.
Senior guard Lance Fuller led Woodlawn with 21 points and Jason Goode and Keith Mallory each contributed 14. Alan Mahan and Allen Reitter each had 17 for Franklin (13-4, 3-4).
"They played us tough and well," Woodlawn coach Eddie Green said. "I thought my kids really responded in the third quarter and pulled away. The game was much tighter than the score indicates."
The Warriors intensified their defensive pressure on Franklin, leading to several transition scores. Woodlawn converted 14 Indians miscues into 19 points. Fuller was the biggest recipient, scoring 15 in the second half.
"We realized in the first half their guards couldn't dribble," said Fuller, who had nine steals and five assists. "The point guard couldn't dribble to his left, so Coach [Green] said just force him left, stay on his right pocket and you'll get turnovers. Our defense really gave us a lot of energy."
Fuller gave the Warriors their final lead in the third period at 42-41, and later assisted Mallory on a layup for a 46-41 advantage. Fuller followed with a steal, leading to a layup by Jordan Brown (10 points and eight assists). The Indians got to within 52-44 before a three-point play by Fuller advanced Woodlawn's lead to double digits.
The lead grew to 61-46 when Fuller opened the final quarter with a three-point play.
Franklin coach Mike Thomas said Fuller's play set the tone.
"We didn't set our press break the right way, and it was easy pickings," said Thomas. " ... Fuller's defense set up their offense. Without his defense, it probably would've been a different game."
Franklin had the Warriors in an early, 19-12 hole, but Woodlawn powered the ball inside to Goode, who earlier in the day signed to play football at Maryland, to pull even at 28. Reitter came back with a three-pointer, Franklin's fourth of the first half.
"They had a lot of outside shooters, and we took from that how to get up on shooters," Fuller said. "A lot of teams have one or two shooters that can make a three-pointer. We just stopped them [Franklin] in the second half."