No. 4 Oakland Mills rallies for OT victory over Centennial; Robinson and Ndiaye combine for 36 (VIDEO HERE!!)
Oakland Mills High is on track for another Howard County boys' basketball title. How the No. 4 Scorpions got into position will be talked about for awhile.
Down 15 points in the third quarter and on the verge of throwing in the proverbial towel, Oakland Mills stormed back to force overtime where it claimed a 66-61 victory over 19th-ranked Centennial in Ellicott City. Senior guard Will Robinson scored 20 points for the Scorpions (13-2 overall) and Mamadou Ndiaye added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
The Columbia school outscored the Eagles (13-2), 41-21, over the final 16 minutes of play to move into a first-place tie (both teams are 11-1). Last year, the Scorpions lost at home to Centennial in the regular season finale, costing them the league title.
It was about resiliency not redemption for Oakland Mills Wednesday.
"We stepped up our intensity, it was all about heart," said Robinson. "Eventhough we didn't play our best basketball, we felt we matched up with them. It was all about wanting it more."
Robinson's two free throws with 27.3 seconds left in overtime put the Scorpions up 64-61. The Eagles turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds, and Robinson was fouled with 9.7 seconds remaining.
He missed the front end of an one-and-one, giving Centennial a chance to tie. Sophomore guard Elijah White's three-pointer from corner missed long and Daniel Kiely got the rebound for Oakland Mills and was fouled, leading to his game-clinching free throws with 2.1 seconds to play.
About an hour earlier, Robinson was on the floor, stinging from a knee to the mouth during a scramble for a loose ball. With a rabid student section providing a lift and a perfectly executed game plan, the Eagles had Oakland Mills on the ropes.
Down 40-25 midway in the third quarter, Scorpions coach Jon Browne called a timeout.
"I got the kids on the bench and asked them was it time to put the subs in," Browne said. "The kids looked at each other and said no way."
"We came out with a new attitude," said Ndiaye. "We competed and fought through til the end."
Ndiaye's bookend offensive follow scores highlighted a 10-3 closing run in the third, pulling the Scorpions to 43-35. Another successful second offensive chance, this time from Robinson, presented Oakland Mills with its first lead at 46-45 with 4:55 left in regulation.
The closing minutes were back-and-forth with five ties and four lead changes. Centennial had a 55-53 lead after two free throws from Chad Smothers with 9.7 seconds remaining.
Tre'Von Hopkins was fouled on a drive to the basket for Oakland Mills with 5.2 seconds left and converted both pressure free throws, tying the game at 55. Ndiaye got a hand on Isaiah White's attempt with about two seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime.
Ndiaye put Oakland Mills up for good in the extra session, 59-58, with two free throws with 2:21 left. After a Centennial missed a three-pointer, Robinson got a Kiely miss and scored, making it 61-58 wiith 1:30 remaining.
The lead inched to 62-58 on Kiely's free throw with 41.9 seconds left, but White answered with a three-pointer for Centennial with 32 seconds left.
Looking to take a major step in the league title chase, Centennial served notice immediately as White's dunk off a baseline drive had the hosts up 9-1. The Eagles had a 24-13 adantage midway in the second after another White flush.
Discombobulated by Centennial's mannered tempo and its own sloppy play, Oakland Mills was only down 30-22 at halftime. The Scorpions were within 34-25 early in the third quarter, but a jumper from Connor Clemens and back-to-back drives from Strothers had Centennial in command at 40-25.
Browne called timeout, leading to the seminole moment of the Scorpions' season.
"It just took a stop or two or miss shot which they weren't doing a lot of, and some buckets on the other end," said Browne. "It was quick. We made enough plays to get back into the game."
Smothers, a senior guard, finished with 18 points for Centennial and junior forward Tom Brown added 17. The Ellicott City school kept Oakland Mills' transition game under wraps in the first half, but wasn't able to maintain.
"We could've put it away but they didn't let that happen," said Centennial coach Chad Hollwedel. "There's some stuff we need to clean up, but their energy and second and third effort points was outstanding. We got outworked in the second half."
It's the second overtime victory of the season for the Scorpions, who defeated McDonogh School in the finals of their annual Christmas holiday tournament. Oakland Mills rallied from a 14-point first half deficit.
"Being No. 1 always feel good," said Robinson. "Being down 15 with less than half the game to go shows heart, it shows will."
No. 4 Oakland Mills 66, No. 19 Centennial 61 (OT)
Oakland Mills - Kiely 11, Williams-Day 11, Ndiaye 16, Robinson 20, K. Stanfield 2, Hopkins 4, Aaron 2. 20 25--39 66.
Centennial - Strothers 18, Brown 17, I. White 15, An 4, Wilson 3, Clemens 4. Totals 25 8-12 61.
Oakland Mills 9 13 13 20 11 - 66
Centennial 15 15 13 12 6 - 61
Last Updated (Friday, 30 January 2015 14:48)