Starting the season with 10 players on the roster and currently down to seven because of injuries, the Glenelg Country boys basketball team has no choice but to be tight-knit these days.
It showed Friday night against visiting Gilman.
Sharing the basketball, rebounding efficiently and committed to stingy team defense, the Dragons built a 28-point lead and then fended off a late surge by the Greyhounds to close out a 61-50 win in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.
Jordan Brathwaite led four players in double figures with 18 points for the Dragons, who won their third straight to improve to 5-3 and 3-2 in the league’s Black Division. Noah Charles (15 points), Jared Robinson (14) and Noah Batchelor (10) also took turns stepping up to help build the big lead.
“Our chemistry is really good — we have a lot of returnees and we play well together,” Charles said. "We share the ball, have a bond, and we all like each other and everybody is a good player.”
Gilman (5-3) entered in first place in the division with a 4-1 mark, but it was the home team that took control early with ideal execution at both ends of the floor. Leading 14-8 going into the second quarter, the Dragons managed an 11-0 run with behind Brathwaite and Charles, whose layup to end the string provided a 25-8 lead with 4:31 left in the half.
More of the same took place in the third quarter — Robinson accounting for eight points and Batchelor hitting a 3-pointer — as the Dragons owned its biggest lead at 51-23 with 1:36 to play.
But the Greyhounds, who got 18 points from Chris Winborne, started making the shots that wouldn’t fall in the first half to stunningly draw close. Forward Roman Hinds scored all six of his points midway through the fourth quarter in the midst of a 17-1 run. Matt Cooper hit a 3-pointer and then Winborne made two free throws to cut the lead to 52-46 with just over two minutes to play.
With the big lead built in the third quarter, Charles had no idea he would have two critical free throws to take with 1:56 to play. But he sank both, the Dragons then got a needed stop on defense with Batchelor grabbing a rough rebound to help secure the win.
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“We’ve had different guys stepping up every night,” said Glenelg Country coach Garrett O’Donnell. “We don’t have that one superstar, but we’ve got really solid players. One night it’s Noah Batchelor stepping up, the next night it’s going to be [injured] Cole Paar when he gets back and tonight it was Jordan and Noah [Charles]. We just know somebody has to step up and we have a choice of seven right now.”
He later added: “I’ve got to give Gilman credit because essentially on the scoreboard they were getting buried but they weren’t in their heart. They kept fighting and fighting and put a scare into us so credit them.”
On the road, shots not falling and the opponent revved up and playing efficiently at both ends, the Greyhounds could have further come unglued in the latter stages but instead stayed on course to threaten. It also impressed their coach, Will Bartz. Cooper and Jordan Foster also reached double figures with 10 points each.
“We were trying to chunk the lead — five more and then five more — rather than look at it as an overwhelming 28-point deficit. So I’m proud of the guys sticking with it and not dividing.”
G – Cooper 10, Hinds 6, Marshall 5, Winborne 18, Foster 10, Lane 1. Totals: 17 13-23 50