Oak. Mills, Nicholson float over Glenelg, 52-50

Scorps win region title on shot in final seconds

1A South boys basketball

High schools

March 03, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

With the score tied and the final seconds evaporating, Varnez Nicholson never doubted himself or Oakland Mills.

It would have been easy. The Scorpions boys basketball team had just seen a three-point lead slip away at home with 20 seconds left, and Nicholson, Oakland Mills' top shooter, was mired in a horrible shooting slump.

But big players always take big shots, he told himself. And so, with time running out, he drove the lane into the teeth of the defense, tossed up a soft floater with 3.5 seconds left and found nothing but net. The basket send a packed house into a frenzy, and gave Oakland Mills a 52-50 win over Glenelg in the Class 1A South regional final, and a trip to the state tournament.

"I knew I was going to take that shot, there was no doubt in my mind," Nicholson said. "I was struggling, but we knew we were going to pull it out. We were the better team."

The game should go down as a classic for both schools, as the Gladiators and Scorpions played one of the best games this season in Howard County. Both Glenelg and Oakland Mills made magical runs through the playoffs to reach the regional final, but only Oakland Mills will play another day, making its eighth state tournament appearance, the seventh under coach Dave Appleby.

"That's regional final playoff basketball right there," Appleby said. "It was just a tremendous game all around. We were a determined team. It's the most energy I've seen us play with all year long."

Glenelg, which narrowly missed its first state tournament appearance in the school's 40-year history, gave it a tremendous run before coming up short. The Gladiators got down as much as 30-21 in the second half, thanks to the inside play of the Scorpions' Andre Brooks, who muscled his way to 16 points. But Glenelg stormed back behind senior Chris Bowen, who finished with 17 points, and Pat Beal, whose three-pointer tied the score at 50-50 with 17.4 seconds left before Nicholson's heroics.

"It was just a great high school basketball game," Glenelg coach Jeremy Snyder said. "Two teams played their hearts out. We had a few layups that we usually make just rim out. But I'm not disappointed. This is really the way high school basketball should be played."

Oakland Mills (13-12), which doesn't have a single senior on its roster, struggled during the regular season to play as a team. But the Scorpions hit their stride at the right moment. As Nicholson struggled, Brooks, Greg Brakus, Justin Barnes and Coranda Prince all stepped up to score points, or grab key rebounds, which proved to be just enough to earn the victory.

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