In a season full of struggles and near misses, Wilde Lake got itself something to celebrate Monday evening.
Khari Jackson scored a career-high 29 points, including 12 during the decisive overtime period, to lift Wilde Lake to a 59-55 victory over Marriotts Ridge. It’s just the second county victory of the season for the Wildecats (2-15, 3-16).
“For these guys this is great and, I tell you what, I know I will sleep a little better tonight. You need a reward every now and then for all the hard work,” Wilde Lake coach Deon Wingfield said. “I think everything so far this season has been about learning lessons and I think we’ve definitely learned a lot. Hopefully we can take tonight and go forward to try and peak here at the end of the season.”
For Wilde Lake to snap its nine-game losing skid on Monday, it took outlasting a Marriotts Ridge (3-13, 5-14) squad that erased a 13-point second half deficit behind the guard duo of Robert Davis (26 points) and R.J. Bryant (19) to force overtime.
Jackson says that he and his teammates simply reached a point where they refused to lose another close game.
“We’ve lost like seven games by one or two possessions, so I wanted this win bad,” Jackson said. “We all just had that drive and made sure we got it.”
Early on, it looked like Wilde Lake might run away with it. The Wildecats held Marriotts Ridge without a single field goal in the first quarter on the way to establishing an 11-2 cushion.
Antony Evans was particularly huge out of the gates, scoring six of his eight points in the opening period. On the game, the senior forward also added eight rebounds.
Then in the opening three minutes of the second quarter, Wilde Lake increased its advantage up to 15-2.
“We were playing our tempo and that was the biggest thing,” Jackson said. “Our tempo is not really fast and it’s not really slow … it is kind of more in the middle. And we were working the ball around and finding the open player.”
Marriotts Ridge regrouped slightly but still trailed 22-11 at the half. Midway through the third quarter, Wilde Lake’s lead was holding steady in double digits at 31-18.
But Davis and Bryant kept the Mustangs from going away quietly. The duo combined to produce a 18-1 run between the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth to give the Mustangs their first lead of the game.
Over the final four minutes of regulation, the lead changed hands four times before the score ended up knotted up at 43.
Despite seeing his team’s lead dissipate down the stretch, Wingfield stayed positive heading into the extra period.
“Basketball is a game of runs and they have a phenomenal player on their side in Rob that is going to try and will his team back in the game,” Wingfield said. “So I just kept telling our guys to weather the storm. I truly believed if we kept our composure, everything would work out fine.
“It was tough to have all those turnovers and have to go to overtime, but it was a new game.”
In overtime, Jackson took over. His lay-up put Wilde Lake ahead 31 seconds into the overtime and from then on, the Wildecats never trailed again. He used a mix of lay-ups and foul shots to account for 12 of his team’s 16 points in the four-minute period. Sophomore Austin Cantwell, playing his first varsity game since being called up from JV, scored the other four points during OT for the Wildecats.
That scoring output, combined with the defense of guys like Spencer Ampofo (10 points), provided the edge Wilde Lake needed to pull out the win.
“I thought the guys showed some maturity tonight in the way they regrouped and made the plays to help us be victorious tonight,” Wingfield said.
Wilde Lake 59, Marriotts Ridge 55