In the days leading up to Wednesday night’s Howard County rematch between No. 17 Oakland Mills and River Hill, Scorpions Coach Jon Browne taped up a newspaper article in his locker room for his players to read.
The article quoted Hawks forward Walt Moody calling Oakland Mills “the best,” before adding that River Hill was, “capable of beating them.” Moody’s statements lit a fire underneath the Scorpions, who snapped River Hill’s 12-game winning streak with a 62-52 road win.
“That motivated us. Our coach told us to look at it every day until it was today. That’s what we did. We were motivated only because we won the first game, but now we got a point to prove, that we’re the number one team,” Oakland Mills forward Dajuan Dent said. “When Walt said that stuff, [Browne] put it on our bulletin board in the room. Every time we walked in the locker room, we had to look at it, we had to read it more than once, before and after [practice].”
The loss ended a River Hill winning streak that dated to the Hawks’ previous loss to Oakland Mills on Dec. 12. In that game, the Scorpions (17-0, 14-0) held Moody, the top scorer in Howard County, to just seven points. Wednesday night, it seemed as though Oakland Mills had once again managed to silence Moody, who hit just one field goal and scored just four points in the first half.
The Hawks (13-3, 11-2) made their run though in the third quarter, led by a nine-point outburst from Moody and six more from sophomore big man Charlie Thomas IV, to cut the Scorpions lead to as little as five. Oakland Mills withstood the River Hill run, disrupting and wearing down the Hawks’ precision offense with a press defense and athleticism to seal the victory.
“We had that mind-set. That mind-set that we were not going to let them catch back up, period,” Dent said. “That’s what we did. All we did was play good D, strapped it up.”
The Scorpions were led by a bevy of double-figure scorers Wednesday night, including junior Marvin Williams, who had 13 points, and Dent, who had 12. Loyola (Md.) commit Lavon Long had 11 points against the Hawks. Moody and Thomas IV were the top scorers for River Hill with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
“They came to play. They were focused,” Browne said. “A little bulletin board material never hurts. It’s something we talked about a great deal in practice. We talked about it before the game. This was our game to win, it wasn’t our game to lose, and the boys responded well.”