Boykins follows up a moment of truth Boys basketball: Atholton's lone returning starter has risen to a new level and is inspiring the Raiders to make a strong bid for the Howard County title.

January 30, 1998|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Atholton junior Brian Boykins will remember his Jan. 14 game against Wilde Lake as pivotal in his young career.

He scored 15 second-half points in helping the No. 20-ranked Raiders overcome a 16-point deficit and win, 59-56.

"I discovered a side of me that I hadn't seen before," Boykins said. "I learned I could play at another level."

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Boykins, Atholton's lone returning starter, not only scored, but he dominated the boards.

"It was the strongest I've ever seen him go to the boards and ask for the ball," Atholton coach Jim Albert said. "Out of urgency, he understood that's the way he has to play. It lit a fire under him. And if he plays that way, he's quite a player."

Boykins said: "We needed some people to step up, and if I did something, the rest of the team would follow. I realized I wasn't playing the way I could, wasn't concentrating as I should, wasn't focused. We had had a poor practice the day before and were playing like we practiced."

Boykins also revealed that pride was the main reason he came to life that half. He lives in the Wilde Lake district but attends Atholton to participate in its ROTC program.

Since he moved to Howard County at age 10, from New York, Boykins has grown up playing in the schoolyards with several current Wilde Lake players, such as Corey Butler and Mike Braxton.

"I had to get up for my rivals," he said. "We're pretty close, and they beat us three of four times last season. This was a payback. I couldn't lose to them, or I'd never hear the end of it."

Boykins is averaging 14 points and nine rebounds this season, after averaging 10 points and leading the team in rebounding as a sophomore. "I was known as a rebounder last year, but I'm scoring more this year," he said.

Although he plays mainly center or strong forward, he's versatile and can shoot from three-point range. He has a soft shot and handles the ball well, well enough, he hopes, to play a No. 3 position in college.

"He has all the tools," Albert said. "He just needs to polish his ball-handling skills, and eventually he'll play No. 3."

Boykins scored a career-high 27 points against Edgewood, but he acknowledged that his best performance was in the second half against Wilde Lake.

"I like the pressure situations. I just need to improve my dribbling, keep my form and be consistent at the foul line," he said. "We have a lot of talented guards at Atholton, and that enables us to play at a fast pace. We really want to bring the county championship back to Atholton."

The Raiders are tied for second with Long Reach at 7-2, and are 10-3 overall, having lost to Edgewood, Long Reach and Hammond.

Boykins thinks he has particularly good chemistry with teammate Jason Almond, because the two played varsity together last season. "But I also played with Jared Albert, Steve Waddy and Ryan Lambert on JV my freshman year," he said.

Boykins attended summer basketball camp at Shippensburg, Pa., where he focused on improving his defense.

He also plays for an Amateur Athletic Union team, the First Baptist Church, that finished third in the state and among the top 16 at nationals.

His brother, Marcus Boykins, played football and basketball at Atholton, and football as a freshman for Shepherd College last fall. Atholton's football coaches tried to recruit Brian, but so far he has resisted.

Pub Date: 1/30/98

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