A rollercoaster season thus far took a significant up turn for Oakland Mills Friday in front of a sold out crowd against rival Hammond.
Bouncing back from an out-of-county loss Wednesday against Meade, the Scorpions raced out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never really slowed down on the way to a convincing 59-38 victory over a previously unbeaten Golden Bears team.
“I tell you what, this tonight was an absolutely great finish going into the holiday break and in many ways it’s a sigh of relief for us,” Browne said. “We’ve been on pins and needles a little bit, still trying to figure some things out. But I think tonight was all about calming down and getting back to just being us. A 20-point win against a rival … yeah, that’s going to feel good for the next couple days.”
Senior Daeshawn Eaton led the way with 20 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter to seal away the win, but Oakland Mills (3-1, 5-2) ended up getting production up and down its roster on both ends of the floor.
Frederick Eiland chipped in with 11 points and DJ Hopkins was right behind him with nine points, while the sophomore duo of Barry Evans and Dooley Riggs combined with Ke’von Simpson (11 rebounds) to lock things down defensively on the interior and clean things up on the glass.
“That’s probably our best all-around effort of the season thus far, especially defensively,” Browne said. “The effort from our sophomores was incredible. Barry’s energy and Dooley changing shots really got us going and then Ke’von was a rebounding machine. We came out ready to go.”
Hammond (2-1, 5-1), which was held 25 points below its season scoring average, was led by Micah Henry (17 points) and Jaylen Wiggins (15) in the loss.
Oakland Mills wasted no time setting the tone, getting a layup from Eaton on the team’s first possession as part of a 12-2 run in the first six minutes of the opening quarter.
After Hammond answered with five straight points to temporarily cut its deficit to five, 12-7, the Scorpions flipped into high gear once again. Between the end of the first quarter and the close of the half, Oakland Mills outscored the Golden Bears 26-9 to create a 22-point lead going into intermission.
Hammond did respond in the third quarter behind Henry and Wiggins to get back within 10 points, 41-31, with 2:40 left in the period. But that’s as close as things got, with Oakland Mills outscoring the Golden Bears 18-7 the rest of the way.
“We just had a handful of guys that had never seen this kind of environment or played in this kind of rivalry game and it showed in that first half. We weren’t ready to play and I take some responsibility for that,” Hammond coach Mike Salapata said. “I am extremely proud of the fight coming out of the half, though, because we very easily could have rolled over. It just boils down to us having dug ourselves too big of a hole.”
During the game-sealing run, Eaton provided an exclamation point midway through the fourth quarter with a steal and transition dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.
Oakland Mills is back in action next Thursday against Key in its own holiday tournament and Eiland says the team will be carrying with it some momentum.
“For me personally, it gives me a lot of confidence that we just tore up a team that was 5-0 and I heard they were one of the best in the county … so yeah, a lot of confidence,” Eiland said.
Oakland Mills 59, Hammond 38
OM (3-1, 5-2): Eaton 20, Eiland 11, Hopkins 9, Evans 6, Simpson 5, Riggs 3, Gaymon 3, Lawrence 1, Parks 1.
Ha (2-1, 5-1): Henry 17, Wiggins 15, Allen 2, Miller 2, Anton Escala 2.
Half: 38-16 OM.
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