Oakland Mills boys basketball senior Daeshawn Eaton has been one of Howard County’s top scorers the past two seasons. But in the second half against Centennial on Jan. 18 and in the first half versus Reservoir on Friday night, Eaton’s offensive effectiveness plummeted.
Eaton, who is averaging 20.9 points per game this season, made one basket after halftime of the Scorpions’ 57-50 loss to Centennial. He finished with 12 points, his lowest scoring output of the season.
On Friday night, Eaton converted just one bucket in the Scorpions’ eight-point first quarter and added four points in the second period. The Scorpions still managed to enter halftime tied at 23, but the first-team All-County guard knew he needed to return to form, and fast.
“My mindset was that I needed to get a bucket,” Eaton said after Oakland Mills’ 64-55 win. “In order for us to win, I needed to get a bucket, and that’s what I did.”
Eaton simply could not be contained after intermission. He poured in 11 points in the third period to help Oakland Mills retake the lead and added 12 points in the final period to ensure his team kept the advantage. By the final buzzer, Eaton totaled 29 points and the Scorpions (7-3 Howard County, 11-4 overall) earned their seventh county win of the season and 11th overall.
Scorpions coach Jon Browne and assistant coach Jeff Tittle declined to comment after the victory.
“His IQ is out of this world,” Frederick Eiland II said of Eaton. “His ability to put the ball in the basket and get it to his teammates is out of this world.”
Senior Josh Odunowo (14 points) and sophomore Aria Ameli (12 points on three 3-pointers) were the only two players to score in double digits for a Reservoir team that was uncharacteristically lethargic according to coach Mike Coughlan. The Gators (6-4, 9-5) thrive on energy, Coughlan said, and without it, their performance suffers greatly. Trying to stop limit Eaton only made it more difficult.
“He can do everything,” Coughlan said. “He can shoot the ball — you’ve got to play him honest there — then he can get to the basket, then he can dish. He’s one of the better players. He can do all things, so it’s tough to take away one thing because he’s going to do something else and he’s a very smart player, too.”
With both teams coming off a week-long layoff between games because of midterm exams, the opening period was filled with turnovers, contested shots and fouls. In addition to six first-quarter turnovers, Oakland Mills missed all six of its free throw attempts in the period.
Reservoir took better care of the ball but missed its fair share of open looks and was too aggressive at times. On two occasions Odunowo was the culprit, so he went to the bench with two personal fouls late in the first period. The Gators’ leading scorer would not return to the floor until the second half.
The Scorpions were able to erase their early deficit in large part because of juniors Truth Norton and DJ Hopkins and sophomores Barry Evans and Dooley Riggs. Norton drilled a 3-pointer and finished a layup in transition in the second period, while all of them were integral to the Oakland Mills’ full-court press and zone defense. At a time when the Scorpions’ seniors faltered, the up-and-comers picked up the slack.
The start of the third quarter was not much better for the senior-heavy starting lineup. Reservoir rattled off eight points in the opening three minutes, while Riggs (eight points) was the only player to make a basket for Oakland Mills during that stretch. Browne had eventually seen enough, calling a timeout with his team facing a 31-25 deficit.
“[Browne] was telling us that we just talked about this in the locker room, like turn it up, we’re in our house,” Eiland said. “We’re not playing D, we’re not helping, we’re not scoring, so put the ball in the basket.”
From that point forward Oakland Mills looked like one of the top teams in the county. The Scorpions outscored Reservoir, 39-24, with 23 of those points coming from Eaton. Late in the third period, it was Coughlan who needed a timeout after Eaton converted a layup plus the foul. It was now the Gators who were trailing by four, a deficit they would take into the fourth quarter.
Eaton was far from finished, though. His and-1 layup with 5 minutes, 8 seconds to play put Oakland Mills up by seven. On the next possession he converted another bucket through contact, falling to the ground as the ball passed through the net and the gym erupted in celebration.
After a sluggish start, Eaton and the Scorpions would not be denied in front of their home crowd.
“I showed some emotion,” Eaton said of those two game-changing plays, “and I was feeling it from there.”
Oakland Mills (7-3 Howard County, 11-4 overall) — 64, Reservoir (6-4, 9-5) — 55
OM — Daeshawn Eaton 29, Dooley Riggs 8, Truth Norton 7, Ke'von Simpson 7, Frederick Eiland II 5, Jaelen Gaymon 3, Barry Evans 3, Justin Parks 2.
Re — Josh Odunowo 14, Aria Ameli 12, KyJuan McCallum 9, Ryan Saunderson 8, Victor McKoy 4, Timi Adubi 2, Josh Bradford 2, Kaleb Glasper 2, Jaylen Manning 2.
Loyola Blakefield — 49, Glenelg Country (6-6 MIAA A Conference, 14-7 overall) — 43
St. Mary's — 72, Chapelgate Christian (1-8 MIAA B Conference, 6-17) — 63
CCA — Felder- 15, Knox 14, Cofield 13, Perfater 6, Praylow 6, Blackwell 5, Mbergan 4.
Halftime: 34-33, St. Mary’s.