No. 7 Howard knocks Oakland Mills from unbeaten ranks; Russell and Malagar lead way (VIDEO HERE!)

Camille Malagar had nine points for Howard girls’ basketball team Wednesday, five in the fourth quarter as the No. 7 Lions held off ninth-ranked Oakland Mills. The Ellicott City school is tied for first with Oakland Mills and Reservoir in Howard County.

by Nelson Coffin

Even though she’s just a sophomore, Howard High guard Lauryn Russell is building a reputation around Howard County for coming through in the clutch.

She proved to be worthy of that praise again on Wednesday night in Ellicott City, scoring a team-best 15 points and draining a key 3-pointer to help the seventh-ranked Lions subdue No. 9 Oakland Mills, 54-39, in Howard County girls basketball action.

Russell, whose shot from deep in the corner stopped the visiting Scorpions from gaining any more momentum after they had cut the Lions’ lead to 40-33 early in the final period, wasn’t the only Howard standout in the victory.

Junior captain Camille Malagar also shined as Howard (9-1 overall, 5-1 Howard) ended Oakland Mills’ run as the last remaining undefeated in the Baltimore region.

Malagar said that Russell’s dagger gave the Lions a lift just when they needed one.

“Lauryn always gets the big threes,” she said. “That one really pumped us up.”

Although Malagar’s magical moments were much closer to the hoop, they were no less entertaining.

First, she somehow managed to finish a dazzling drive while being fouled late in the third quarter to build a 40-27 advantage.

In the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by Oakland Mills senior guard Kiyah King sliced the deficit back under double digits, Malagar’s scoop restored a 10-point cushion with three minutes left in regulation.

She then followed junior guard Anii Harris’ bank shot with another circus move in the paint that warranted a bucket and a trip to the foul line to consummate an old-school three-point play for a 52-37 lead with just over two minutes left in regulation.

“I’ve learned how to move the ball in the air (when driving) while trying to get the ‘and one,’ “ Malagar said, who also yanked down eight rebounds.

Despite not scoring in the first half, Malagar’s presence helped the Lions claim a 23-10 halftime bulge.

“I think I can impact the game without scoring,” she said. “We have a lot of really good shooters, and I try to get them the ball in a good position to shoot.”

What Howard does not have is a lot of size, other than 6-foot freshman center Gabby Scott, who played all 32 minutes against Oakland Mills (9-1, 5-1 Howard) and scored eight points — all in the first half.

The Scorpions, on the other hand, have do have some talented bigs in senior Aislynn Riggs and Kobie Scott-Pearson, although Riggs was in foul trouble early and eventually fouled out with just under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Scott-Pearson, though, made her presence felt, especially in the second half as the Scorpions rallied from a 17-point deficit to make a game of it.

The first half was a forgettable one for Oakland Mills, which jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a King drive and a Riggs basket assisted by junior point guard Jazmine Washington, who tied Russell for game scoring honors.

The Scorpions were then caught off guard by Howard’s quickness during a withering 25-6 run that lasted until the opening minutes of the third quarter.

“They made us play faster than we like to play,” Oakland Mills coach Walt Hagins said. “Any time you play a team like Howard, you play against the name on the jersey, and they’ve been a powerhouse for a long time.”

Howard coach Scott Robinson said that the Lions decided to go after Riggs after she picked up her first foul early in the game.

“The Washington Post listed her as the top shot blocker in the are last year, so we wanted to get her out of there,” he said.

Robinson also praised Howard junior guard Marisa Sanchez-Henry for holding Oakland Mills senior guard and Coppin State University commit Marley Grenway to just two points.

The Lions’ performance Wednesday created a three-way tie between them, Oakland Mills and No. xx Reservoir (5-1) in the HoCo standings. Howard travels to meet River Hill (4-4, 3-2 Howard ) on Friday while the Scorpions look to rebound against Atholton (2-8, 0-5 Howard).

Oakland Mills 7 3 19 10 — 39
Howard — 16 7 17 14 — 54
Oakland Mills: Jazmine Washington 15, Kobe Scott-Pearson 11, Kiyah King 6, Aislynn Riggs 4, Marley Greenway 2, Ty’Asia McDuffie 1. Totals 14 10-18 39.
Howard: Lauryn Russell 15, Anii Harris 12, Marisa Sanchez-Henry 10, Camille Malagar 9, Gabby Scott 8. Totals 20 11-18 54.