Owls clinch sectional top seed
With one more win, the Dundalk boys basketball team won’t need to leave their home court in the postseason except to make the trip to College Park.
The Owls clinched the top seed in the Class 3A North Section 2 playoffs with a 64-59 win over visiting Oakland Mills on Monday.
If Dundalk (16-3) wins its regular-season finale at Franklin, which was scheduled to be played on Wednesday, it will clinch the overall top seed for the Class 3A North region and would host ev
ery playoff game. The regional winner advances to the Class 3A state semifinals at the University of Maryland.
Oakland Mills, the 2015 Class 2A state champions, entered the game with a losing record (5-13) but led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter.
“We told our players before the game, don’t be fooled by their record,” Dundalk coach Steve Oppenheim said. “Records are just numbers. Howard County basketball is a strong league, and [Oakland Mills] was state champs just two years ago.
“They’re well-coached, fundamentally sound and contest every shot.”
The Scorpions hit a three-pointer in the final second of the second quarter to take a 35-33 lead into halftime, then scored the first nine points of the third quarter.
With Oakland Mills leading 44-33 and threatening to spoil Dundalk’s hopes for the top playoff seed, the Owls Gates Cook stepped up.
Cook, Dundalk’s most reliable three-point shooter, had been hav
ing an off-night up to that point. But he swished a three-pointer from the corner with 5:34 remaining in the quarter to ignite a 13-3 Owl run that lifted Dundalk right back into the game.
Rayonte Brown had a put-back and followed it up with a threepoint play to make it 47-46, Oak
land Mills, with 1:25 remaining in the quarter.
The Owl defense also did its part, holding the Scorpions to one field goal over a five-minute stretch.
“I told the players we had to push the ball,” Oppenheim said of the 11-point deficit. “We had to pressure and push, get some turnovers, make them take some bad shots.”
The Owls forced five turnovers during the 13-3 run.
Oakland Mills still led 49-46 entering the fourth quarter, helped in part by the Owls missing five straight free throws.
Nick Parrish broke the streak, sinking two foul shots, and Cook converted a three-point play to give Dundalk the lead for the first time in the second half, 51-49.
The Scorpions responded with five unanswered points — Dundalk missed two more free throws — to go up 54-51 with 4 minutes remaining.
Jauwan Graham scored on a drive to get the Owls to within one point, and Jaylon Johnson hit both ends of a one-and-one to put Dundalk ahead for good, 55-54, with 3:31 remaining.
The Owls sank seven-of-nine free throws down the stretch to keep the Scorpions at bay.
Dundalk’s defense held Oakland Mills to two field goals in the third quarter, and three field goals over the final 13 minutes of the game.
“These are the type of games you’re going to face this time of year,” Oppenheim said. “It’s a 32-minute game; teams are going to have runs. We just gutted it out and found a way to win.”
Parrish led Dundalk with 14 points. Johnson had 11 points, while Cook and Graham each scored 10.
Friday, Dundalk travelled to Mil- ford Mill and stunned the hosts with a convincing 62-42 win. Parrish scored 22 points, Tay
quan Busby scored 14 points and Graham had 12.
It is believed to be Dundalk’s first win over Milford Mill in basketball. The Millers were 14-4 entering the game and were on a 13game winning streak.
“It was a statement game,” Oppenheim said. “It made our guys believe we can go from a good team to a possibly great team.”
It was also Senior Night for the Millers, and their first Baltimore County Division I loss.
Milford Mill won the division with a 10-1 record. Dundalk and New Town are tied for second , both 9-2.
Patapsco (6-12) defeated Carver A&T 59-56 in overtime on February 8, and lost at Dulaney on Friday 92-51.
Sparrows Point (0-17) lost at Dundalk 76-53 on February 7 and lost at Owings Mills on Monday 79-59.
Jauwan Graham drives to the basket for a key score in the fourth quarter against Oakland Mills.
Rayonte Brown of Dundalk contests an Oakland Mills shot.
Jaylon Johnson’s two free throws with 3:30 remaining gave Dundalk the lead for good over Oakland Mills.