Hot-shooting T. Johnson stings Scorps Oakland Mills rallies, but can't stop 71-63 loss, its second straight

Boys basketball

December 11, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Anytime a high school team shoots 27-for-41 (58.7 percent) from the floor, it should expect to win.

When that team is the defending Class 3A state champion, like Thomas Johnson, a victory is even more assured.

The Patriots (1-0) of Frederick County created a plethora of high-percentage shots and cashed in most of them last night at Oakland Mills, as they raced to a 71-63 victory over the Scorpions (0-2).

Thomas Johnson was beginning its post-Terrence Morris era; Morris, TJ's all-everything player for the past couple seasons and one of the country's most hotly recruited players last winter, is now getting playing time as a freshman at Maryland.

The realigned Patriots played solid defense, beat Oakland Mills on the boards and shot an red-hot 17-for-22 (77 percent) from the floor in building a 42-25 halftime lead. The Patriots converted six fast-break layups that half and nine for the game.

Meanwhile, Oakland Mills had trouble getting back on defense, as well as with handling the ball. And in the first half, they were as cold as TJ was hot. The Scorpions shot a paltry 11-for-32 (34 percent) from the floor in the first half.

The Scorpions rallied in the second half behind improved defense and rebounding and a good shooting effort (7-for-16) in the third quarter.

Oakland Mills pulled as close as 60-51 with 5: 20 left in the fourth quarter, but the rally fizzled with two straight turnovers. The Scorpions committed 17 turnovers for the game, and finished up shooting 26-for-70 (37.1 percent) from the floor.

Chad Dickman, Thomas Johnson's lone returning starter, scored six of the Patriots' final 11 points to keep his team from collapsing. Teammate Dave Stone was high scorer with 23 points.

Murray Graves scored eight of his 12 points, including three dunks, in the second half to spark Oakland Mills' rally.

Point guard Thomas Browne (10 points) also scored eight second-half points, and Scott Allen (13 points) scored seven that half for the Scorpions. Chad Barr scored all eight of his points in the first half.

"We rushed a lot of shots in the first half but played much better in the second half," Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby said. "We have to put two halves together, and we'll be fine. A team that plays as hard as Thomas Johnson will take advantage of your mistakes."

Thomas Johnson (Class 3A) and Oakland Mills (Class 1A) are both tall but inexperienced teams that figure to have excellent chances of reaching the final fours in their respective classifications at College Park.

"I thought one of the keys tonight is that we wore out their point guard [Browne], whom we thought was a pretty good shooter," said Patriots coach Tom Dickman. "He hit two threes at the end, but his legs were gone in the second half."

Pub Date: 12/11/97

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