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An eight-point La Plata Warriors lead was cut down to two instantly when the hosting Leonardtown Raiders went on a 6-0 scoring run to open the second quarter and taking the score to 16-14 in a SMAC boys basketball contest on Wednesday night.
What the Warriors quickly realized is that the Raiders had switched to a zone defense in the second period and thus the patience on offense kicked in.
Ronnie Harmon would pass it to Jordan Alston, then Alston would pass it back and then another passing sequence between the two players and then another until, finally, one would be left open to hit a three-point shot.
The two combined to hit four three-pointers in the second quarter alone and helped neutralize the zone defense en route to a 69-52 victory, its second over Leonardtown this season.
“We just had to slow it down,” Harmon said, “because when they are in a man [defense], we try to get out on the fast break. But, when they are in zone, we just pass it around and see what we can get and see if we can get open shots.”
Harmon finished with a game-high 17 points and knocked down a game-high three three-point shots, including two in the second quarter.
Alston poured in 15 points, including hitting a three when Leonardtown had the lead down to 20-19 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Harmon knocked down his first three of the quarter on La Plata’s next offensive possession — following two Leonardtown free throws — to up the lead to five.
“We were just swinging the ball around and trying to make them come out of that zone,” Alston said. “We had the lead, so they had to play us.”
Patience, shot selection and ultimately shot making, helped La Plata and head coach James Douglas earn the team’s sixth win of the season.
“Since we were [leading], I told the guys in the past that when teams switch to us once we get a little lead, we start to force it against the zone,” Douglas said. “I told them that as long as we had the lead that we were not in a hurry to score. A two-point victory is still a win. I told them to pull it back, be patient and make sure we get good shots.”
La Plata (6-7, 3-2 SMAC) was never threatened again after letting its lead fall to one point, building leads of 14 points multiple times through the fourth period and to as big as 17 to end the game.
That mentality can be traced back to when the Warriors hosted Leonardtown earlier in the month in which the Warriors watched a 13-point halftime lead disappear though won the nonconference contest by 12, 57-45.
“Last time we played them, we went up by  and we came out and figured we had the game wrapped up and didn’t come out with enough energy,” Douglas said. “We told them that we had the lead [tonight] and we need to keep the lead. For four straight quarters, we needed to play with the same energy, same pressure and same intensity and today we did that.”
Douglas and the Warriors were not wanting a repeat of that victory and thus kept the pressure up throughout the second half.
“We had to keep our foot on the pedal and never let up,” Alston said.
Harmon added, “Coach told us to keep going and don’t let us and that’s what we did.”
Helping build that lead was guard Kory Anding, who scored 15 points for the Warriors, 12 of which coming in the fourth quarter.
Leonardtown (4-9, 1-4) was without head coach David Holland, who was out due to illness, according to assistant and acting head coach Will Snively.
The Raiders were also without major low-post presence Desmont Jones, out due to an ankle injury.
Mike Day led the Raiders with 17 points as teammates Damien King and William Smith added 14 and 10 points, respectively, to round out the Raiders double-digit scorers.
Snively was unavailable for comment after the game.
Raiders, Braves girls pick up victories
The Leonardtown girls went on the road and escaped with a 38-37 road victory over the Warriors on Wednesday night.
The Raiders (5-9, 2-3) led by 16 points at halftime, but only scored nine points in the second half, where La Plata took advantage to make it a close game, falling just short.
Alyssa Bois scored a team-high 11 points for the Raiders, while Taylor Superioand Erin Buhler added 10 points each.
For the Warriors (4-11, 1-4), Paige DeMent had a game-high 15 points, 13 rebounds and two steals. Junior Ashley Golson added four points, five steals and seven rebounds.
Chopticon 52, Stone 30
Visiting Chopticon won its third straight contest on Wednesday night as it took down the Cougars of Thomas Stone.
Chopticon (12-3, 4-1 SMAC) snapped Stone’s three-game winning streak, and defeated it for the third time in three meetings this season.
The Braves won 59-39 on Dec. 11 nonconference matchup at home and 47-41 on Dec. 27 in the Southern Maryland Holiday Tournament at Great Mills High School.
The Braves took a 15-4 first-quarter lead, and went up 31-8 at halftime. Stone outscored them 12-5 in the third and went on a 16-10 run to close the game out.
Sophomore center Ericka Boyden scored a game-high 15 points and junior guard Ty Priest added 12 points for the Braves.
Keisha Davis was the only player in double figures for Stone (9-6) with 11 points. Kayeoni Jenkins scored eight points in the loss.
firstname.lastname@example.org Staff writer AJ Mason contributed to this report.