You don't have to try hard to convince Glenelg boys basketball coach Terry Coleman that there is no place like home.
Coleman's upstart Gladiators, with only one loss at home all season, received balanced scoring from all five starters last night as the hosts sent perennial county champion Oakland Mills to its second loss in two days, 56-37.
Glenelg (14-5, 8-4) might control its destiny in the three-way battle with Hammond and Centennial for the county basketball title.
"We've sold our kids on the fact that they don't have to worry about anybody else," said Coleman, whose team closes the regular season next Thursday against Centennial. "All we have to do is win the three games left and we're going to be county champs. Somebody else is going to stub their toe."
Oakland Mills (8-10, 6-5) had climbed back into the county title race by reeling off five wins in the seven games before last night, including a 69-67 overtime win against Glenelg. But playing on the road for the second consecutive night, and playing without ++ an ill Chad Barr, the Scorpions were held to a season-low 37 points.
"Missing Chad's 15 points a game definitely hurt us," Scorpions coach Dave Appleby said.
With Barr's outside shooting touch absent, Glenelg employed a rarely used zone defense to sag on Oakland Mills' leading scorer, Michael Hill (19 ppg), who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
"We haven't played zone all year. But it worked and it gave our players a chance to rest their legs since we have three games in three days," Coleman said.
Neither team shot particularly well from the floor, with Glenelg earning the percentage edge, 33 to 28. However, with Oakland Mills' man-to-man defense denying Glenelg's top two scorers, Jason Beall (20 ppg) and Scott Cline (18 ppg), clear looks at the rim, Gladiators senior point guard Jamie Brinker assumed the load.
"Jason and Scott combine for nearly 40 points a game, but it wasn't there for them tonight," Coleman said. "We've been on Jamie to shoot the ball more since he was a freshman. He doesn't have a bad shot, it's just that he lacks confidence. A game like tonight may get him ready for the rest of the season and the playoffs."
Brinker scored eight of his 13 points in the second half. His five unanswered points to open the fourth quarter came at a critical juncture as Oakland Mills had crept to within 11 points, 43-32, by theend of the third quarter.
Glenelg built a 32-17 halftime lead by forcing Oakland Mills into five second-quarter turnovers to spark a 17-6 run. Although the Gladiators converted just seven of 21 field-goal attempts, junior center Brian Meshkin (nine points, 10 rebounds) exploited the Scorpions' lackluster front-court defense for seven second-quarter points.