Third-seeded Oakland Mills used the basics, strong second-half defense and consistently accurate shooting to turn back a staunch challenge from second-seeded Loch Raven in the Class 2A, Region II playoffs last night.
The Scorpions' 66-52 win moved them into the final against Overlea, scheduled for tomorrow night.
All season long, Oakland Mills (18-6) geared its offense around the inside game and 6-foot-5, 225-pound center Mark Terry. And last night at Loch Raven, Terry led all scorers with 20, his strong inside play too powerful for the Raiders to stop.
"We wanted to get help [a double-team] on [Terry], but he did such a good job it was never effective," Loch Raven coach Gary Horn said. "We also wanted to make [Akil Benjamin] and [Mike Phillips] shoot outside, but we failed and let them drive on us."
Oakland Mills took only a few long-range shots the entire game, as Terry got a lot of help inside from 6-foot-5, 200-pound Gregg Washington (19 points). Washington dominated the boards in the second half.
The Scorpions shot 27-for-54 (50 percent) from the field, a normal night for them.
Loch Raven (18-5) came out fired up in the first quarter, hitting nine of 17 shots to take a 20-17 lead. The Raiders led by as many as seven, 13-6.
"We came out nervous," Oakland Mills guard Mike Phillips said. "And the rims were a lot tighter than we're used to, so we missed some shots we normally make."
At halftime, Terry said he tried to fire up his team: "Coach wasn't yelling at us, so I did. I said we're going to have to win by playing defense."
Terry's speech worked. Loch Raven, after shooting 14-for-26 in the first half, dropped off to eight for 29 in the second half, a disastrous 27.5 percent.
"We slowed it down and relaxed too much in the third quarter," Raider Earl Shorter (19 points) said. "We lost our momentum and didn't get it back until the fourth quarter."
Oakland Mills built a 55-43 lead at the end of three quarters. But Loch Raven rallied to within five, 55-50, with four minutes left in the game.
Oakland Mills missed the front end of five one-and-ones in that last quarter and made just two of five shots from the field -- a scenario for a Loch Raven comeback.
But the Raiders were unable to shoot much better, making just four of 16 from the field.
Terry's power move inside made it 57-50, and Phillips followed with a three-point play that restored the lead to a healthy 60-50.
"They were just too big and strong for us," concluded Horn. "To win we knew we'd have to shoot well." Loch Raven shot only 40 percent for the game.
"The whole story was how well our half-court offense played in the second half," Scorpions Coach Dave Appleby said.