Depth Paying Dividends for Old Mill Boys Basketball

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It was at an impromptu meeting back in September in Old Mill's weight room that head coach Mike Francis got an early indication of just how committed his team was planning to be this winter.

The Patriots were coming off a respectable campaign in which they finished 16-8, a solid finish in Francis' mind considering how inexperienced the group was. This year however, his players wanted more.

"The players' goal was to be the best in Anne Arundel County. Senior forward Marcel Jenkins and junior forward Hollique Johnson approached me and told me that was their goal," Francis said. "At that meeting I made them captains, and told them they were responsible for everyone to share that goal."

Behind the leadership from both Jenkins and Johnson, Old Mill has put their best foot forward to obtaining that goal. The Patriots are 19-1 and have beaten other top Anne Arundel County teams like Glen Burnie, Southern-AA and Meade.

The team started the year 18-0 before dropping its first game against Annapolis on Feb. 7. Although there was obvious disappointment within the team about losing its first game of the season, Francis was really excited with how the team responded the following contest against Old Mill's biggest rival, Glen Burnie, going as far as to say it's the Patriots' biggest win this year.

"Not because it was Glen Burnie, but it was after a loss," Francis said. "No matter who was on the schedule for last Friday, it would have been big for us because we bounced back from a loss."

In that game the Patriots leading scorer was Avion Robinson 10 points, which should come as no surprise- the sophomore guard has been Old Mill's go to player this year, averaging 17 points a game.

To Francis though, what's made his team difficult for opponents to contain has been its depth. The team has a consistent rotation of eight players, and all have had moments where they've helped carry the Patriots' scoring load. Along with Robinson, Jenkins and Johnson, the group includes senior forward Terrell Bush, senior guard Savione Barnes and junior guard Will Spriggs, as well as sophomore guards Ryan Savage and Daevone Johnson.

"We like the transition game, and playing uptempo," Francis said. "We like to create offense off of defense as we rebound aggressively and share the ball as a team. Our stats show that as each night we have at least two different leaders in scoring."

Looking ahead, Francis hopes the Patriots can cap off a great regular season with an exciting showing in the postseason. Old Mill has never won a state championship in boys basketball, coming closest in 2010 when the team lost in the state final. Since that year, the Patriots have not been able to win their region.

For now, Francis just wants his group to continue to focus on what they've been doing all year. If this regular season is any indication, their process should translate to success in the playoffs.

"Our three goals prior to the year as a coaching staff were to improve daily, control what we can control, and be within two possessions with three minutes left in every game we've played," Francis said. "So far, we have accomplished those goals in all 20 games."
February 13th, 2017By: Wick Eisenberg

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