Oakland Mills Coach Jon Browne didn’t bother with a history lesson before Thursday’s Maryland 2A quarterfinal against Gwynn Park. None of the current Scorpions had ever played against the Yellow Jackets, so as the veteran coach prepared the area’s last unbeaten team for its playoff opener, he thought it best to stay in the present.
Ninth-ranked Oakland Mills squashed any thoughts of an upset early in its emphatic 73-45 victory, and when it was over, the students still spilled onto the court to celebrate.
At 6-foot-8, Greg Whittington rose above the swarm, but really, he fit right in. The 2010-2011 All-Met Player of the Year wore a wide smile as he made the rounds, dispensing high-fives, hugs and pats on the head. The Georgetown sophomore never played with any of these Scorpions, but he clearly took pride from their performance against Gwynn Park, the team that ended each of his final three seasons at the Columbia school.
“He’s still a little kid, man, to me,” Browne said. “He’s a gym rat. He comes around a lot and makes his presence known because this place is special to him. He’s a program guy.”
Whittington, who is currently academically ineligible to compete for the Hoyas, had Oakland Mills in a similar position two years ago when he averaged 23.5 points per game and shot 60 percent from the field. The Scorpions won their first 25 games that season, only to fall to Gwynn Park, 52-48, in the region final.
Recent series history between Oakland Mills and Gwynn Park
|2009||Maryland 2A QF||Gwynn Park||66-50|
|2010||Maryland 2A Final||Gwynn Park||79-75|
|2011||Maryland 2A South Final||Gwynn Park||52-48|
|2013||Maryland 2A South QF||Oakland Mills||73-45|
A Georgetown starter relegated to scout team duties for now, Whittington arrived around tip-off for the teams’ fourth meeting in five years. He watched from the wall underneath one basket with former teammates Isaiah Allen and Evan Hopkins on Thursday.
Perhaps the most celebrated basketball recruit to come out of a Howard County public school in more than two decades, Whittington accompanied Oakland Mills into the locker room at halftime and briefly addressed the team.
“He was here in the same program as us with the same coach,” said senior Lavon Long, a Loyola (Md.) recruit. “In a way, we kind of did it for him because they didn’t get that win [against Gwynn Park] two years ago.”
Now 23-0, Oakland Mills advances to play Largo in a region semifinal on Tuesday. The Scorpions have not made the state tournament since 2001.