Oakland Mills is one step from improbable

Scorpions rally to OT, then final on Brooks' late 3-point play, 62-61

Class 1A boys basketball

March 10, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Oakland Mills boys basketball coach Dave Appleby doesn't pretend his team is something that it's not.

"They're not really thinkers," Appleby said of the Scorpions, who are without a single senior. "I don't have much of a game plan, I just try to give them some structure, then I sit back and let them play."

Appleby's laissez faire style may be unorthodox, but no one can argue with the recent results. Oakland Mills won its fourth game in a row yesterday, upsetting Pikesville, 62-61, in overtime at Cole Field House, earning a berth in the Class 1A state championship game at 1 p.m. today against Snow Hill, a 54-49 winner over Southern-Garrett.

"Basketball is a funny game," Appleby said. "Sometimes all you need to do is catch lightning in a bottle for five games. We fully know that we could be nowhere if a few balls hadn't bounced our way, a few free throws hadn't gone down. But they did, and we're very happy to be where we are."

There is no doubt they've come this far mainly on the shoulders of junior forward Andre Brooks. Brooks scored 24 points, including the biggest basket of the game, grabbing a miss from teammate Varnez Nicholson in the closing seconds of overtime, then turning it into a decisive three-point play by scoring and getting fouled with 4.4 seconds remaining.

Brooks calmly nailed the free throw, which, in essence, nailed shut the lid on an otherwise impressive Pikesville season.

"I just tried to get good position and the rebound came to me," Brooks said. "I went up strong and kept the ball high like my coach is always telling me, and it went in. After that, I just tried to collect my thoughts, take my time and hit the free throw."

Panthers guard Drew Braver, who scored 15 points and tormented the Scorpions (14-12) most of the game with his dribble penetration, led one last full-court mad dash to get a shot off, but he was surrounded by Brooks and friends. He drew contact in the lane, but was unable to get a shot off. First-year coach Paul Smith was visibly upset that no foul was called, and refused to speak to reporters after the game.

"I felt like I was fouled, but I can't expect to refs to make that call at the end of the game," Braver said. "Give them [Oakland Mills] credit, they came back and did the things they had to do to win."

That the game even went into overtime was surprising, considering the favored Panthers (18-4) played solid throughout. They got 18 points from leading scorer Clement Sorgho and 11 points and eight rebounds from Malcolm Thomas.

Pikesville led by four with 41 seconds remaining in regulation, but the Scorpions clawed back. Two free throws by Brooks and a key offensive put-back by Justin Barnes sent the game into overtime. But both Sorgho and Thomas fouled out in the extra period, leaving the door open for Oakland Mills, which got a key basket from Prince Coranda before Brooks' last-second heroics.

P--Sorgho 18, Braver 15, Thomas 11, Dean 10, Foreman 4, Cooper 2. Totals: 24 7-9 61. OM--Nicholson 12, Brooks 24, Coranda 18, Braukus 4, Barnes 4. Totals: 23 13-21 62. Half: 31-27, P.

Boys playoffs

(At University of Maryland's Cole Field House) State semifinals Yesterday

Class 1A Oak. Mills 62, Pikesville 61 (OT) Snow Hill 54, Southern-G. 49

Class 2A Dunbar 81, Fairmont Heights 71 Wicomico 77, Fort Hill 72 (3OT) Thursday

Class 3A Randallstown 61, Westlake 52 T. Johnson 80, Crossland 73, OT

Class 4A E. Roosevelt 64, Lake Clifton 50 Magruder 77, Arundel 57 State finals Today's games

Class 1A Oak. Mills vs. Snow Hill, 1 p.m.

Class 3A Randallstown vs. Thomas Johnson, 3 p.m.

Class 2A Dunbar vs. Wicomico, 6 p.m.

Class 4A E. Roosevelt vs. Magruder, 8 p.m.

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