Oakland Mills Coach Jon Browne had seen enough by late in the third quarter Wednesday night at Centennial. In a matchup of the top two teams in Howard County, the Scorpions had dug themselves a deficit of 15 and Brown had a question for his starters.
“I just told them, ‘Is it time? The guys on the bench want to play. Is that what we’re going to do?’ ” Browne said.
Browne got the answers he wanted. The Scorpions closed the gap and tied the game in the fourth quarter before winning in overtime, 66-61, to hand No. 20 Centennial its first county loss before a raucous crowd in Ellicott City.
“He lit a fire under us when he said that to the starters, to the whole team to keep pushing, keep fighting,” said forward Mamadou Ndiaye, who scored 16 points. “The game wasn’t over. He had faith in us. He just wanted to test us and see if we could bring it through and win the game.”
Guard Will Robinson Jr. gave Oakland Mills (13-2, 11-1) its first lead at 46-45 with a layup in the fourth quarter. Centennial (13-2, 11-1) had controlled the game from the opening tip with the trio of forward Tom Brown (17 points), guard Chad Strothers (16 points) and guard Isaiah White (15 points).
The game was tight down the stretch. The Eagles took a two-point lead with 9.7 seconds left when Strothers was fouled and made two free throws. But Scorpions guard Trevon Hopkins (four points) drew a foul on a drive to the basket and sank two free throws of his own with 5.2 seconds left to tie it at 55 and force overtime.
Oakland Mills guard Daniel Kiely scored five of his 11 points in the extra period, and the Scorpions shot 7 of 12 from the free throw line to seal the win.
For Robinson, who was forced to the bench for a short time after taking a knee to the mouth in the second quarter and finished with a game-high 20 points, Browne’s challenge was relative.
“For me coming up, there were a lot of things that were harder than just coming back from a basketball game,” Robinson said. “I feel like I bring that in to basketball, that never give up. So when he said, I’m like, ‘For what?’ We still got a game to play, got a game to win. That’s what I’m thinking. It’s just basketball.”