Eagles, Scorpions use different roads to reach same place: title contention

Rebuilding, turmoil aside, Oakland Mills can win crown by beating Centennial

Boys basketball

February 20, 2000|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Every team should have such a rebuilding year.

After 6-foot-5 Co-Players of the Year Murray Graves and Anthony Breland graduated last season, Oakland Mills' basketball fortunes appeared ready to tumble.

Instead, despite an above-average amount of team turmoil, this year's team is 14-7 overall and 13-4 in the league, ranked No. 20 and one game away from repeating as county champions.

The Scorpions play host to Centennial on Tuesday in a winner-takes-all game.

"It's a surprise to us," said point guard and co-captain Glenn Hayman. "We were hoping to go .500."

Hayman, a senior who played sweeper for back-to-back state champion soccer teams, missed the first Centennial game because of the flu. Now he hopes the Scorpions can avenge that 56-49 loss.

After going 5-4 in the first half of its league schedule, Oakland Mills appeared headed nowhere. Instead, the Scorpions went 8-0 during the second half.

"There's no way we could have thought of going undefeated during the second half," Hayman said.

That streak grew even more improbable after starting shooting guard Robert Roche was dismissed from the team for fighting against Atholton.

"It's a shame. I don't think Robert was much involved," Hayman said. "Before each game we all yell his number, 21."

Things got even tougher after leading rebounder A. G. McCray was dismissed for violating the county drug and alcohol policy at a school Valentine's dance.

That dropped the Scorpions down to eight players, including soccer player Brian Grund, a senior guard who didn't play a high school game until this season. Grund scored 12 points in a 92-90 overtime win against Wilde Lake on Feb. 11, and then scored eight in a win over Long Reach.

"We've jelled now that we're down to eight," Hayman said. "We're playing like a real team."

Cyril Chesson, who played sparingly last season, has emerged as the team's most productive player. He averages almost 18 points.

He was mistakenly ejected during the Atholton fight even though he was standing near the scorer's table, nowhere near the fight. That mistake was corrected, and he was allowed to play the next game, scoring a career-high 40 points against Howard.

Said Chesson: "Our strength is that we have heart."

"Centennial is going to be a challenge," Hayman said.

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