- The Enterprise
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Ray McLeod never changed his facial expression, not even after his Great Mills Hornets had secured a 55-41 victory over the Chopticon Braves on Friday night.
Even when the Hornets only led by one, 32-31, with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and even when everything around him was moving at hyper speed, the senior stayed calm and collected.
McLeod scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, quietly, but the one time he did offer a fist pump with a loud yell of “Let’s go” came on his assist to teammate Trevon Porter to put Great Mills ahead 42-33 midway through the fourth.
Great Mills head coach Frank Peck jokingly said it sometimes looks as if McLeod is sleeping on the outside, but he and his staff knows that on the inside, McLeod is running on high.
That inside drive helped McLeod and the Hornets end a three-game losing streak.
“I feel like we put everything we had together,” McLeod said. “It showed in practice, and we came out and got the ‘W.’”
Peck mentioned that McLeod’s personality on the floor is who he is off the floor but took notice of not just his ability to remain calm, but his ability to score in the manner that he did throughout the game.
“That’s Ray’s personality,” Peck said. “He has that very stoic personality, and he is that way all of the time ... but he is turning inside. What Ray did tonight, as a player, he got inside the lane and hit that little 10-foot jump shot. I thought that was key. That mid-range jump shot is there. He did a very good job, and CJ [Sampson] did a good job on the boards.”
Sampson poured in 17 points in the contest, including three points during a 15-1 Hornets scoring run over a stretch of 2 minutes and 20 seconds in the fourth quarter that took a 36-33 lead to 51-34 and closed the door on the Braves.
“We turned up our intensity,” Sampson said of the late stages of the game. “In that third quarter, things started out kind of slow, but as a team, we picked it up. ... It was a good game, but I couldn’t do it without my team. I like that the energy comes from all of them. This was a team win, of course and as always.”
Great Mills had to fend off a surge of momentum from the Braves gained when Chopticon senior Nic Gagnon was ejected from the game with 4:43 left in the third quarter, after a minor altercation that left Chopticon Head Coach Glenn Larnerd Jr. bewildered as to why his player was disqualified from the contest.
“I think that gave [Chopticon] a ton of motivation,” Peck said. “They came out after that and really geared it up. I think we didn’t respond to that really well. And I think finally, we were able to regroup to where we were in the first quarter and put a focus on defense. I thought when we regrouped, then we were able to get back into it.”
The Braves used that momentum to go on a 6-0 scoring run to end the third and start the fourth that put them to within one early in the fourth.
But the Great Mills scoring run eventually sent Chopticon and Larnerd to its ninth-straight loss.
“I think we were able to get some needed stops on the defensive end that led to needed baskets on the offensive end,” Larnerd said via email. “But what we were doing to get within striking distance, we went away from for the last four minutes of the game.”
Larnerd added that shooting 17 of 35 from the free-throw line (49 percent) did not help the Braves’ case in the contest.
“I just don’t think we played to our potential all game,” Larnerd added. “We really struggled to get everybody on the same page, but the Great Mills defense had a lot to do with that.”
TJ Berry led the Braves with 11 points.
Braves, Hornets win
The Great Mills Hornets kicked off a three-game week with a 56-43 victory over Northern on Monday night, the second-straight win for the Hornets.
McLeod led the way again for Great Mills (10-8, 5-3 SMAC) with 15 points in the win.
Bernal Day added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Sampson added 10 rebounds.
Chopticon (2-17, 2-7) ended its nine-game losing streak Monday night with a 58-49 victory over Patuxent, the second win of the season for the Braves.
A double-double from David Mason that included 17 points and 11 rebounds gave the Braves the lift it needed for the win.
Austin Raines added 13 points, and Pierre Mitchell added 10 to round out the double-digit scorers.