Darden's 27, defense win for Rams Randallstown ends at 8 Milford Mill's win streak

Boys basketball

January 31, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When guard Demon Brown went down with an injured shooting hand earlier this month, many predicted doom for Randallstown. But in last night's crucial Baltimore County game at No. 14-ranked Milford Mill, the 11th-ranked Rams showed they still have plenty left.

Tony Darden scored a game-high 27 points, and Randallstown forced 30 turnovers in a 58-54 win, breaking the Millers' winning streak at eight.

The victory moved the Rams (12-3 overall, 7-1 in the Hoopsters Division) into a virtual tie with Milford for second place in the division, behind undefeated Woodlawn. The Millers (14-2, 8-1) face the Warriors in another pivotal game next week.

Last night was the Rams' latest test since losing Brown -- one of the metro area's best players -- to a torn tendon in his right hand in a win over Overlea three weeks ago. Though they admit it has taken a little time, players say the team is finally performing to its potential.

"When we first lost him, it was down, then up, then down," Darden said. "Now I think we've finally got the concept of our defense, and we're a complete team."

That wasn't difficult to see last night.

Trailing 21-16 midway through the second quarter, the Rams used an 8-2 run over the next two minutes to take a 24-23 lead. The teams traded leads several times until the Rams used Milford's foul trouble to grab it for good.

The key moment occurred with 2: 10 left in the third quarter, when Millers center Ray Akinola, who had scored 12 in the first quarter alone, was charged with his fourth foul battling for a rebound. Without the 6-foot-4 sophomore on the floor, Darden and Randallstown went to work, using an 11-2 run to build a 50-43 lead with 6: 10 to play.

"That was big," said Darden. "Getting him out of the game meant we could go down a little more and get some offensive rebounds that we weren't getting in the first half."

Akinola (14 points) returned in the fourth, helping Milford to pull to within a point, but fouled out with 1: 58 left.

"They just pounded the boards on us," said Millers coach Ed Smith. "I don't think they had more than two or three jump shots all night. It was all layups and foul shots. I don't want to take anything away from Brown, because he's a great player, but they seem like more of a team."

Pub Date: 1/31/98

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