Oakland Mills nips Forestville, 67-66 Conwell leads Scorpions over defending champs

February 24, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Oakland Mills' Irving Conwell and Forestville's Joe Lofton are two of the top players in Maryland.

They squared off against each other last night in the opening round of the Class 2A South region playoffs at Oakland Mills.

And Oakland Mills (12-8) and Conwell walked off the floor with a tension-packed 67-66 victory over the defending Class 1A state champions.

Conwell racked up 33 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocked shots. He shot eight-for-13 from the floor and 11-for-16 at the foul line.

Lofton (24 points) and Conwell, both of whom were averaging 27 points, staged a game within a game, especially in the decisive fourth quarter in which Oakland Mills rallied from a five-point deficit.

Conwell, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound senior forward, outscored the 6-7, 210-pound Lofton, 8-6, in the final period, including four free throws in the final 52 seconds.

More importantly, Conwell guarded Lofton in the fourth quarter, drawing a charge against Lofton and blocking a Lofton shot, plays that helped Oakland Mills upstage Forestville, 16-10, that period.

"We knew he [Conwell] was supposed to be a player," Forestville coach Irv Hay said. "And he lived up to expectations."

Both Conwell and Lofton were familiar with each other's style, because they played together on the Prince George's Jaguars several years ago.

"I was really pumped for this game because of him," Conwell said. "We wanted to double down on him and force him to take hard shots. The charge on him really helped us."

Lofton's layup with seven seconds left cut the Oakland Mills lead to 65-64.

But Oakland Mills worked hard to get Conwell the ball on the in-bounds pass, and he sank two free throws with six seconds left for a 67-64 lead.

Forestville (14-9) missed a shot just inside the three-point arc, and James Washington put back the rebound for the final 67-66 score.

"He [Conwell] could have been shut down," Lofton said. "He was my man and I should havechecked him. It's something for me to learn from."

The entire Oakland Mills team contributed to the victory, however.

Mike Brown (15 points) sank two three-pointers and scored eight points in the fourth quarter. His three-pointer with 1:55 to play gave the Scorpions a 63-60 lead.

"That was a really big shot for us," Conwell said.

Fardan Carter (10 points) scored the game's first five points and had back-to-back baskets in the third quarter when the momentum and the lead had swung to Forestville.

Jake Coleman came off the bench to sink a timely three-pointer in the second quarter, and center Duaine Harding contributed some valuable minutes off the bench.

"Defensively we knew we had to play back, double Lofton and hope they missed," Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby said.

"We played beautifully, with heart -- the best we can play. I'm elated. Our plan was to control the tempo and keep it in the 60s. Offensively, we wanted to make at least six threes and shoot at least 65 percent at the line. We did both."

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