Owings Mills' Gerard Mercer looks to break away from the… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
Third-ranked Milford Mill didn't exactly light up its bandbox of a gym offensively in Friday's Baltimore County title game. The Millers, in fact, managed just one basket in the first five minutes against Owings Mills and finished the night 1-for-15 from beyond the 3-point arc.
It was what the hosts did on defense, however, that made the biggest impact in a 61-44 win that earned them their third straight county championship.
Milford held the Golden Eagles to 26 percent shooting from the field, using intense pressure to force 17 turnovers, and also dominated on the glass, holding Owings Mills to a single shot on most possessions. On offense, Colgate-bound guard Isaiah McCray scored 15 and 6-foot-5 senior Tevin Hanner, another Division I recruit, added 12 — nothing fancy, but enough to do the job.
"I just thought we gutted it out," Millers coach Albert Holley said. "We didn't look good, which we haven't in a week or so … but we'll clean it up next week and be ready for playoffs."
Milford (20-2), the defending Class 3A state champion, awaits Sunday morning's regional playoff draw in Columbia. The Millers know they'll receive a first-round bye in their quest to return to the state tournament.
Owings Mills (20-3) will also be seeking its second straight trip to College Park after falling in last year's Class 1A final. For the Eagles, who had won seven straight games by an average of more than 20 points, the loss was the first since consecutive setbacks to city powers Dunbar and Lake Clifton at last month's Basketball Academy.
"I'm not taking anything away from them … but we gave them this game," Owings Mills coach Richard Epps said. "Undisciplined [play], easy layups … our youth showed tonight."
Led by forward Isaac Brown (12 points) and guard Carjahn Jenkins (10), the Eagles looked sharp early, building a seven-point not long into the second quarter. Down 18-11, however, Milford began to hit its stride, ending the half with a 17-5 run and taking the lead when 6-4 senior Duane Miller (nine points) put back his own shot.
After Owings Mills got back within three midway through the third, the Millers again pulled away, this time for good. McCray nailed a three-pointer and Chase Cormier added a pair of driving layups in a 9-2 run that extended the lead to 40-29.
"It was defense," McCray said. "I preach to my teammates all the time about defense — play good team defense and we're going to win the game. A lot of little things contributed to this win."
OM—Brown 12, Wilson 7, Thomas 5, Jenkins 10, Eber 3, Smith 7. Totals: 11 19-26 44.
MM—Cormier 9, Hanner 12, Jackson 2, McCray 15, Miller 9, Myers 6, Parker 2, Reid 5, Smoot 1. Totals: 23 17-27 61.
Half: Milford Mill, 28-23.