"We had something to prove and we did," Overlea's Bernard Hopkins said after his team crushed Oakland Mills in the Class 2A, Region II championship game, 73-44.
Hopkins, 6 feet 6, 220 pounds and one of the area leaders in scoring and rebounding, set the pace with 33 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. He now has 1,532 career points.
The undefeated Falcons (22-0), who had never won a regional championship game, move into the state semifinal Friday at 9 p.m. at College Park.
They badly wanted to avenge last year's 80-77 regional final loss -- their only defeat in a 21-1 season.
"And we also wanted to prove that we should be ranked higher than No. 10," Hopkins said. "People think that just because we're in Baltimore County that we don't play very good basketball. We ought to be ranked up there with the city teams."
Overlea's Dearic "Butch" Carter, who hit four three-pointers and scored 16 points, ardently agreed with Hopkins about the
It was never a contest. Overlea scored the game's first nine points and led 18-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Hopkins scored eight of those 18, but also drew two personal fouls in that quarter. He picked up just one more foul, however.
Oakland Mills' Mark Terry, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound center, drew both early fouls from Hopkins, as the Scorpions tried to go inside when their outside shooting was cold. Terry scored six points in that quarter.
But in the second period, Oakland Mills stopped getting the ball inside to Terry and continued to shoot miserably from outside. The Scorpions made five of 21 attempts in the first half and shot only 34 percent (16-for-47) for the game.
Overlea, which shot 58.5 percent (31-for-53) for the game, put together a 13-0 run to lead, 28-8, with 4:07 left in the half.
Shawnte Dukes (10 points) and David Johnson (12 points) each contributed two baskets during that run, showing Oakland Mills that Overlea was not a one-man team.
"Oakland Mills didn't realize that Carter and Dukes can shoot outside," said Overlea coach Doug Eisenhauer, dripping water after players dumped the water bucket on him.
"Everyone knows that Hopkins is the superstar and they try to collapse on him, but we showed again that we have more than just him."
Overlea led 32-15 at halftime, but any hopes of an Oakland Mills rally were doused when Scorpion coach Dave Appleby benched Terry in the second half.
Terry's teammate Mike Phillips explained what happened: "Mark wanted me to get the ball inside to him more and he got to fussing with me at halftime so coach sat him down," Phillips said.
Hopkins, who plays on the same AAU team with Terry, was shocked not to see him in the second half.
"Terry is a strong player. I was really surprised," Hopkins said.
Even with Terry, the third-seeded Scorpions (18-7) had little chance of upsetting the top-seeded Falcons.