La Plata boys pick up first home win of the season in victory over Leonardtown
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
Jordan Alston got the message.
Nick Pitcher understood.
Ronnie Harmon knew what coach was saying.
When La Plata Warriors head boys basketball coach James Douglas sat his starting five players with 4 minutes 51 seconds left in the third quarter in a nonconference contest with the visiting Leonardtown Raiders, the message was clear.
After coming out of the halftime with a 29-16 lead, Leonardtown opened the third quarter with a 16-3 scoring run to tie the game at 32 with just over three minutes left in the period.
But after being benched in the midst of the run, the La Plata starters eventually came back in, regained the lead and never had to be sent a second message, winning 57-45 and earning the first home win of the season.
“I was trying to let the guys know that you can’t get comfortable with a lead,” Douglas said. “That was one thing we talked about at halftime, not going out there and being comfortable and not playing lazily. … The guys came out in the third quarter and they just didn’t have [that energy], so I wanted to let them know that just because you started the game doesn’t necessarily mean you have to finish.”
Alston led all the Warriors with a team-high 13 points which ultimately helped La Plata improve to 2-5 overall on the still-young season, including six points coming after the third-quarter benching.
“He was trying to say that the starters were playing lackadaisical and we had to pick it up, step it up a little bit,” Alston said of his coach’s move. “He sat us all down, gave us a breather, we regrouped, got back in there and did some work.”
Asked if the message was delivered, Alston added, “It got through, it definitely got through. We got back in, we did what we had to do, had a nice little run and got the lead back.”
Alston also scored four of the first six La Plata points of the game as it jumped out to an 18-10 lead after one quarter of play.
The Warriors entered halftime with a 29-16 lead, setting up the third-quarter theatrics.
La Plata found its offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter by scoring 21 points in closing the victory.
Pitcher added 12 points and Harmon had 10 in the win, but after the contest, it was the third-quarter move from Douglas that had Harmon and teammates talking.
“He was trying to make us work harder,” Harmon said. “He put the bench in so the [nonstarters] could get some more work. … It was a good job from them, basically.”
For Douglas and his bunch, they have been road warriors thus far through the season, playing in only its second home game of the season on Wednesday night, but playing on the home floor turned out good results this time around.
“It felt good because we have been on the road just about the entire season,” Douglas said. “It felt good to come home, play in front of the home crowd and everybody got a chance to see us.”
Alston added, “The first home win always feels good, it gets the crowd back into it. Hopefully, we can get a bigger crowd next time.”
Leonardtown dropped to 3-5 overall this season despite a third-quarter burst that erased a double-digit lead and tied the game with only 1 1/2 quarters to play.
During the 16-3 run, Leonardtown junior guard Damien King led the charge by scoring 10 of the 16 points.
King finished with 12 points going alongside a game-high 15 points from Mike Day.
“First of all, La Plata came out and played hard, but I wish we had that energy the whole game,” Raiders head coach Dave Holland said. “I went in and talked to them at halftime and that’s what we talked about the entire time, that energy.
“We came out and had a nice burst, but it’s hard to maintain that. I noticed at the end of the third quarter, the kids started getting tired. I had to call a timeout. You hate to call a timeout in that situation because you’re on a roll, but they were tired and we needed to take a break.”