Get­ting de­fen­sive

Thomas Stone boys down La Plata to move on in Class 2A South Re­gion play­offs; Mitchell scores 30

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

From the open­ing tip of Fri­day night’s Class 2A South Re­gion Sec­tion I boys bas­ket­ball quar­ter- fi­nals, the Thomas Stone boys bas­ket­ball team did not give La Plata any breath­ing room of­fen­sively sparked by its suf­fo­cat- ing man-to man de­fense while clog­ging the pass­ing lanes.

In turn, the fourth-seeded Cougars rolled to a 98-45 vic­tory over the fifth-seeded War­riors in Wal­dorf.

De­spite sweep­ing La Plata in both reg­u­lar sea­son meet­ings 48-46 on Dec. 19 and 53-49 on Feb. 8, the play­off matchup served as a dom­i­nant show­ing on both ends from a more ath­letic and feisty Stone unit.

“The last two times we played [La Plata] were close games and we watched film all week to pre­pare and we wanted to fo­cus on play­ing our style of bas­ket­ball,” Stone head coach Dale Lam­berth said. “We came out with a lot of in­ten­sity tonight and I thought that was big for us in the first half that we had.”

With the win, Stone (158 over­all) ad­vanced to Tues­day’s sec­tion semi- fi­nal matchup at top-seed Lackey (16-6). The Char- gers had a bye in the sec- tional quar­ter­fi­nals.

Both reg­u­lar sea­son meet­ings were rather close with Lackey edg­ing the Cougars on the road 59-58 on Jan. 4 and 55-51 on Jan. 21 on its home floor.

“This is the play­offs and Lackey is a dif­fer­ent team and we are go­ing to have to go down there and play hard,” said Lam­berth, whose team con­nected on 22 of 28 free throws (76 per­cent) in Fri­day’s win. “We are not sat­is­fied and I think it is go­ing to be a good game.”

Stone put its stamp on the game early, jump­ing out to an 11-0 lead and go­ing up 22-2 at the end of the first quar­ter as it did not al­low a field goal in the pe­riod. In the sec­ond quar­ter, the Cougars poured it on with a 30-point pe­riod en route to a com­mand­ing 52-11 half­time lead to put the game out reach.

La Plata, which scored just four field goals in the first half, did not score its first bas­ket un­til the 7 minute 45 sec­ond mark of the sec­ond quar­ter on a layup by sopho­more Ryan Ma­son.

Stone, which went up 71-21 af­ter three quar- ters, had three play­ers in dou­ble fig­ures. Ju­nior swing­man Ka­mau Mitchell led all scor­ers with 30 points, col­lect­ing 17 in the sec­ond half, and con­nect­ing on all eight of his free throws.

“I was feel­ing it tonight of­fen­sively. It felt like I could score more, but I was happy that we are ad­vanc­ing to the next round,” Mitchell said. “My team­mates did a great job of find­ing me and I was able to get to open spa­ces on the floor. I think that we can go all the way in the play­offs, we just have to stick to­gether.”

Se­nior guard Dono­van McCrae (5 as­sists) and sopho­more for­ward Gary Grant each scored 17 points in the win. Trey Queen fin­ished with eight points off the bench and sopho­more guard Kevin Skid­more added seven to go along with 10 as­sists.

“In prac­tice we talked about com­ing out with a lot of in­ten­sity and tonight we did that and played re­ally good de­fense,” McCrae said. “We held them to two points in the first quar­ter and just got out in tran­si­tion.”

La Plata (6-17), which came into the con­test af- ter a 73-69 over­time win over St. Charles one week prior in its reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale, came out flat and dug it­self a deep hole that it wasn’t able to come out of for the rest of the game.

“Thomas Stone came out with more en­ergy and just wanted it more,” La Plata head coach James Dou­glas said. “Our young guys weren’t ready for the mag­ni­tude of the play­offs and couldn’t get a rhythm. Our boys played hard this sea­son and that’s all you can ask for.”

Af­ter com­ing off of a ca- reer-high 45 points in the win over the Spar­tans, La Plata ju­nior guard Justen An­der­son was held to a team-high 15 points.

PHOTO BY ROB WOR­MAN Thomas Stone ju­nior Ka­mau Mitchell dunks home two of his game-high 30 points in Fri­day night’s 98-45 win over vis­it­ing La Plata in the Class 2A South Sec­tion I boys bas­ket­ball quar­ter­fi­nals. Mitchell also was a per­fect 8 for 8 from the free throw line.

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