Brooks, Oakland Mills knock Long Reach from first, 64-61

Senior's all-around effort dampens Lightning show

Boys basketball

High schools

February 13, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Oakland Mills played the role of spoiler last night at Long Reach.

The Scorpions, who always seem to heat up near playoff time, won their fourth straight game and ruined Long Reach's Senior Night celebration with a 64-61 victory that knocked the Lightning out of a first-place tie with River Hill.

The No. 12 Hawks (16-3, 13-3 league) and No. 16 Lightning (16-4, 12-4) each have two games remaining.

Andre Brooks and Varnaz Nicholson of Oakland Mills both played superbly. Brooks dominated the second half, when the Scorpions rallied from a 25-23 halftime deficit to win.

Brooks, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, did it all. He scored 29 points, had 10 rebounds, six blocked shots and was 8-for-10 at the foul line.

He sank three three-pointers, including one at the third-quarter buzzer that put Oakland Mills ahead 43-40. He scored 24 points in the second half and frequently brought the ball down the floor against Long Reach's pressure defense. His two free throws with 20 seconds left put the Scorpions ahead 63-61.

"We wanted to cut off their point guard, [Mike] Smelkinson, because he's the key to their offense," Brooks said. "C.J. [King] is our best defender and did a great defensive job on him."

Oakland Mills played either a triangle-and-two or diamond-and-one defense attempting to stop both Smelkinson (seven points) and Long Reach's leading scorer, Anthony Gaither (10 points).

"We played a man defense and lost earlier this season," said Scorpions coach Dave Appleby.

Long Reach never trailed in the first half, despite a 13-point, eight-rebound effort that half by Nicholson, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

But the Scorpions played especially well on the defensive boards and denied the Lightning second shots. Oakland Mills had 25 defensive rebounds.

Although Oakland Mills stumbled at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, missing the first shot in two one-and-ones and a total of five free throws in the final 1:29, the Lightning missed several crucial shots, including a pair of three-point attempts in the final five seconds.

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