Standing 5-foot-9, Ahmaad Wilson doesn’t fit the mold of a rebounder. But the Owings Mills High guard spent most of the final minutes of Wednesday’s game against Randallstown crashing the boards.
Wilson came up with a put back with 6.7 seconds remaining in regulation, lifting the No. 11 and host Eagles to a 68-66 decision over the Rams in a Baltimore County 1A/2A league contest.
Junior guard Tyson Smith led all scorers with 22 points for Owings Mills (11-0 overall, 3-0 1A/2A), and Carjahn Jenkins finished with 20. Nick Doolin and Joe Caldwell each scored 16 points for Randallstown (7-3, 2-1 1A/2A).
Wilson’s one-handed follow of a Jenkins’ miss gave the Eagles the advantage as Randallstown called timeout with 4.1 seconds remaining. Dijon Hawkins’ layup attempt failed at the buzzer for the Rams, giving Owings Mills the inside track to the league crown and a spot in the Baltimore County title game next month against the 3A/4A league winner.
“Our team wasn’t hitting too many jump shots early on in the game,” said Wilson, who finished with four points. “I caught myself trying to get the boards and the ball came right to me.”
“He just has a nose for the ball,” said Eagles coach Richard Epps. “He’s a sneaky offensive player whereas you never know where he’s going to be at. Once he saw that all the bigs were getting boxed out, he just wanted to get his hands on the ball.”
After Jenkins brought the Eagles to within 64-62 with a three-pointer, Wilson came up a steal leading to a free throw by Issac Brown (nine points). Two free throws by Smith followed by another Brown free throw put Owings Mills in front, 66-64, with 43.8 seconds left.
Hawkins drove the lane and scored on a layup with about 26 seconds remaining. Wilson nearly lost the ball before getting the ball to Smith, whose jumper from the free throw line missed. Kyle Thomas got the offensive rebound, but his shot attempt was denied by Marcus Varner.
The ball came back to Thomas (12 points), who went to the other side of the basket but missed. Wilson, stationed alone under the basket, gently put the ball back in with his right hand.
Wilson’s tap not only sent waves through the Baltimore County 1A/2A, but the entire Owings Mills school community. Wednesday’s victory was the Eagles’ first over Randallstown, which owns a Baltimore County-best six state championships.
Owings Mills opened in 1978.
“We knew we had a chip on our shoulders. Coach Rick [Epps] told us in practice he’s never beaten Randallstown,” said Smith. “We have a lot of friendly rivalries.”
The defending 1A/2A league champ Rams led most of the game including a six-point advantage midway in the final period. Randallstown coach Kevin English said Owings Mills made the plays down the stretch.
“We made a couple turnovers and didn’t get a couple of rebounds and that turned the tide,” said English. “We were pleased with the execution of that last play, he [Hawkins] got to the basket but he didn’t get the call.
The winner of this game probably goes to the county championship so a lot was on the line. Owings Mills always play hard and they play to the buzzer.”
Epps, who was honored for his recent 100th victory at the school prior to Wednesday’s tip-off, said his team has a pattern of starting slow. Though a little taxing, Owings Mills continue to find ways in the end.
“We got to find a way to pick up the energy, but what I love about these guys is that they never quit,” said Epps. “That’s all we ask them to do, play hard for 32 minutes. We don’t need them playing hard for eight minutes at the beginning of the game then don’t play hard for the next 24. You keep playing hard for 32 minutes then you’ll come out with the win.”
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|No. 11 Owings Mills 68, Randallstown 66|
|Randallstown: Davis 2, Hawkins 10, Cooke 3, Varner 4, Ovefusi 3 Cantine 6, Caldwell 16, Davis 6, Doolin 16. Totals: 21 18-26 66.|
|Owings Mills: Wilson 4, Thomas 12, Jenkins 20, Smith 22, Brown 9, Mercer 1. Totals: 18 22-41 68.|
|Halftime: Randallstown 33, Owings Mills 31|