- The Enterprise
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Cougars rebound vs. Hornets boys basketball
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
Staff writerSure the starting five are the keys to the engine that runs smoothly for Thomas Stone’s boys basketball team when it’s turned on.
As the starters turn the key early in the game, that same Cougars engine is sparked by the spark plugs off the bench in Devin Mainor and Brandon Stewart, head coach Dale Lamberth said.
Mainor and Stewart have started the last four games and, by admission, Lamberth said that the Cougars’ offense sputtered, slightly.
Wednesday night, Lamberth allowed Mainor and Stewart to return to their energy-sparking roles off the bench and all cylinders were clicking in an 89-68 victory against the hosting Great Mills Hornets.
Mainor and Stewart combined for eight points, but the energy gained from the duo is valuable to the Cougars.
“Tonight, you kind of saw that,” Lamberth said of the two, “they came in and they rolled.”
Lamberth added, “In the last four games … we sputtered. In the Huntingtown game, even against North Point and against Westlake we sputtered. We met as a team and we talked about that.”
The lineup was changed, that talk went well and Thomas Stone (21-1, 11-1 SMAC) ended the regular season in the best way it could, with a high-energy, high-effort victory.
“They were determined that they had to play hard for four quarters,” Lamberth said. “They haven’t played four good quarters all year. Our goal was to finish this last game with four good quarters, four good, hard quarters. I thought we did that.”
Scoringwise, Stone’s Michael Briscoe was perhaps most determined by scoring a game-high 20 points, one of four Stone players to score in double figures. Brelin Elliot had 16 points, Anthony Chisley added 14 and Mike Aderinkola scored 13 points.
“We just mainly focused on making the final corrections before playoffs,” Aderinkola said of the win. “We tried to find our weaknesses and work on them in this game, mainly executing basically.”
Stone never trailed in Wednesday’s contest.
Lamberth and the Cougars executed so well on the offensive and defensive end of the floor that once they gained a double-digit lead at 19-9 early in the second quarter, the lead was never in single digits again.
“We had to get back on top of things and play as a team,” Elliott said. “It’s really important since we are going into playoffs. We have to keep playing together.”
With a performance such as Wednesday night’s contest, confidence remains high despite the one blemish on its record heading into the playoffs. That blemish being a 74-57 loss to North Point last Friday night. North Point wrapped up the SMAC title on Wednesday night with a 91-59 win over Huntingtown.
“We’re really confident,” Aderinkola admitted. “We’re not overconfident, but we have confidence that we can all play together and win some games.”
Great Mills head coach Frank Peck was able to take some positives from the loss.
“It’s good to see that we are gritty and that we are willing to battle for 32 minutes,” Peck said. “The problem is we have those spells like in the second quarter where it’s a five- or six-point game and it turns into a 12- or 13-point game. Several things contribute to that, turnovers, shot section and rebounding, especially against Thomas Stone.”
Donald Thomas scored a team-high 13 points for the Hornets, while Kenny Daniels and Ray McLeod added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“The next step is to take the effort and play a little smarter, a little more under control in certain situations and just be patient offensively,” Peck said.
Great Mills (12-8, 6-5) has one final regular season game scheduled for 7 tonight at Huntingtown.