Defending Class 1A state champion Glenelg, which went 26-1 last winter but lost a couple of key starters, put Howard County opponents on notice last night about one thing: That was then, 32 minutes of heat is now.
Pressuring the ball pretty much end-to-end the entire game, the visiting Gladiators befuddled Oakland Mills, 60-46, causing chaos on the Scorpions' in-bound plays, passing and perimeter shooting, allowing not a single fast break.
Taller Oakland Mills got few second shots in both teams' league opener because of Glenelg's collapsing, scrapping defenders. By game's end, Oakland Mills (2-1 overall, 0-1 league) had turned the ball over at least 19 times, a dozen in the first half, and Glenelg (2-1, 1-0) won going away a game that was 10-10 after one period.
Glenelg coach Cieran Lesikar was pleased with the defensive work rate, which he called especially important because his tallest starter is only 5 feet 9.
"We still have a long way to go, a lot of X's and O's and execution to work on," he said, "but I'm pleased with the effort for just our third game."
Senior Stephanie Howell led the Gladiators with 22 points, all from field goals, 14 during two Glenelg runs that broke the game open and then clinched it.
"We ran our offense a lot better," she said. "We moved and found the open spots, and our intensity was pretty high."
A 12-4 run in second period gave the Gladiators breathing room, a cushion that grew to 11 early in the third period, although back-to-back three-pointers by freshman point guard Paris Buckner from the top of the arc shrank Oakland Mills' deficit to five, 32-27, with 3: 56 left in the period.
But the toll of Glenelg's pressure became obvious then, as the tired Scorpions lost their composure during a 12-2 Gladiators run that blossomed into a 21-point lead, 54-33, with 4: 43 left for substitutes to mop up.
Glenelg did an especially effective job on the Scorpions' Rayna Dubose, a tall 20-point scorer in the season's first two games who got the game's first basket but only six more points.
The Scorpions' other tree in the middle, Heather Romich, was her team's leading scorer with 14, including a 6-for-6 effort on free throws.
"They played good defense, which we expected, but we just didn't handle the pressure," said new Oakland Mills coach Marcus Lewis.
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