No. 13 River Hill tops Oakland Mills for a shot at 2A South boys’ basketball title; Krause scores 18 (VIDEO HERE!!)

by Donald Daniels

In its last meeting with Oakland Mills, River Hill blew a double-digit lead in the second half advantage and a chance to win the Howard County boys’ basketball title outright. The stakes were much higher in the rematch Wednesday and the Hawks did not let down.

No. 13 River Hill had a few tense moments down the stretch before emerging, 60-56, over the No. 20 Scorpions in the Class 2A South Region Section I final in Howard County. In winning the rubber match, the Hawks are headed to 2A Elite Eight.

Friday at 6, River Hill (20-4 overall) will host southern Maryland’s Thomas Stone, the Section II winner, for the South crown and a spot in the 2A final four next Friday at the University of Maryland. The Hawks last won the state title in 2007 (3A).

Leading by 19 points with five minutes left in regulation, River Hill saw Oakland Mills rallied to within 56-50 with two minutes to play. Jaden Martin and Jacob Krause each came up big from the charity stripe to preserve the victory.

Krause led the Hawks with 18 points and Martin added 12. Daeshawn Eaton posted a game-high 23 points for Oakland Mills (18-6).

“Our defense pressure and our zone defense help build us that big lead in the first half and we just able to finish them off in second half,” River Hill coach Matt Graves said.

The Hawks’ defense created instant offense, scoring 10 fast break points in the first half off of three blocks and two turnovers in the first quarter. With Dylan Daniels and Luke Champion defending the glass, River Hill led 31-16 at halftime.

“We worked hard on boxing out and making sure that no one is front of you,” Krause said. “And once we got the ball and there was no one in front of me, I would take off and my teammates found me for easy layups.”

“Our guys know if they get beat we have excellent shot blocker to help clean things up for us,” said Graves referring to the 6-foot-6 senior Daniels.

Eaton brought Oakland Mills back in the third, scoring 10 points. The Columbia school went on an 8-0 run with an alley-oop dunk from Eaton to Mister Hairston, a layup and jumper from Eaton and two free throws from Robert Burgess. River Hill was able to end the run with a Josh Mann (eight points) corner 3-pointer

Oakland Mills struggled to start the fourth netting four free throws in the first three minutes. River Hill advanced its lead to 52-33, hitting eight free throws and getting two long trifectas from Champion and Mann.

Sparked by long distance 3-pointers from Hairston and Eaton, Oakland Mills sliced the lead to six late in regulation, but it wasn’t enough. The Scorpions overcame a 14-point deficit at home to win 70-65 over the Hawks, setting them up to share the Howard County league crown.

“We dug ourselves a grave into the first half, jumped in, and was a never able to get out of it in the second half,” Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said. “We nearly outplayed them [River Hill] in the second half, but the first half was too big. We have been up and down all season long and this game really reflected that.”

Next up for River Hill is Thomas Stone, which rallied for a 58-54 victory at Southern Wednesday evening in the Section II final. The Hawks haven’t been to the state final four since hoisting the 3A championship trophy 11 years ago.

“This place is going to be crazy on Friday night, we are playing against a team we never seen before and they have never seen us before, so it’s just going to be flat basketball and we will play as hard as we can,” Krause said.

Class 2A South Region boys’ basketball playoffs

Section I final

No. 13 River Hill 60, No. 20 Oakland Mills 56

Oakland Mills: Eaton 23, Hairston 15, Burgess 7, Simpson 7, Chance 4. Totals: 18 15-18 56

River Hill: Krause 18, Martin 12, Champion 10, Daniels 10, Mann 8, McKenna 2. Totals 17 19-26. 60

Oakland Mills 8 8 15 25 – 56

River Hill 11 20 7 22 – 60