Western Tech boys basketball coach Mike Slepesky thought his Wolverines would be better prepared for the postseason if they played a tougher non-league schedule, especially after moving up from Class 1A to 2A.
So, Slepesky scheduled December games against Calvert Hall and C. Milton Wright, and a game in the Penn Charter tournament in Pennsylvania.
What he couldn’t prepare his team for was all the snow and ice in Baltimore County that has turned his team’s late-season schedule into a slippery slope.
With another snowstorm expected to start tonight, Western Tech is scheduled to finish the regular season with nine games in 14 days. Weather permitting, of course.
“It’s hard, but you make sure you rest your guys adequately,” said Slepesky, whose 11-4 squad is aiming for a Division II championship and a berth in the Baltimore County championship game against the Division I winner.
After Monday’s 55-52 win over Lansdowne, the Wolverines were 7-0 in Division II with five games left.
The Wolverines are one game ahead of Woodlawn (6-1), which they are scheduled to play at home tonight at 5:30.
The Wolverines put together three wins in four days, beginning Feb. 7 with a 63-35 win over Kenwood, 63-35. They defeated Perry Hall, 55-54, the next day.
The host Gators led by 14 points in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines rallied with a full-court press, sparked by the play of seniors Mike Haysbert, Donald Imes and John Williams.
Imes had a key reverse layup and ensuing free throw for a three-point play with just under a minute to play that turned a tie game into a three-point lead.
“They are a nice, extremely balanced team, but in the fourth quarter, I put in a faster, energetic squad and pressed fullcourt and they caved,” Slepesky said.
Imes, who averages a team-high 21.9 points, along with 5.6 rebounds a game, finished with a game-high 18 points.
Haysbert, who leads the team in rebounding (8.4) and blocks (3.3), added 14 points and Williams (12.7 ppg. 3.6 apg.) and senior Josh Miles (8.4 ppg, 6 rpg.) added eight each.
Having to rally against Perry Hall was a lesson learned, but the coach also felt they learned some things in a pair of tough losses earlier this season.
“We were up on Milford Mill and New Town in the third quarter and let them get away and that was disappointing,” Slepesky said. “We realized we are one of the best teams in the county and we just have to learn how to finish.”
New Town is currently unbeaten in Division I (8-0) and could be the Wolverines’ foe it they reach the county championship game scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
The Wolverines have also gotten contributions from Malik Moore, Joe White, Tyrell Mosely and Isaac Iyoriobhe, who have combined for 10 points a game.
They are going to need depth through the rigorous schedule and tough postseason, which Slepesky hopes means the school’s first appearance in the Baltimore County championship game.
“Our fate is in our own hands,” said the coach, who has praised his team’s halfcourt effort on both sides of the floor. “A lot of our games have been more halfcourt and our 1-3-1 defense seems to stifle most of the teams.”
That was especially true in a 71-49 win over Randallstown earlier this season that was the Rams only divisional loss of the season.