Needing to issue a knockout punch in its 3A East opening-round playoff game against Mt. Hebron, Wilde Lake went to its bread and butter Tuesday.
Turning up the pressure, the Wildecats forced six turnovers in the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter to spark an 8-0 run and create the cushion they needed to pull out a 55-46 victory on the road.
“Coming into the game, we talked about wanting to control the tempo and make them feel uncomfortable as much as we could,” Wilde Lake coach Deon Wingfield said. “So at the end of the third quarter, when it was a one-point game, I told the guys now it’s time to turn the pressure up a little bit more. We found another level.”
Wilde Lake forced Mt. Hebron into 27 turnovers on the night, turning the majority of them into lay-ups on the other end. Devon Groves (11 points), who scored four of the team’s point during the run to start the final quarter, said trusting the game plan went a long way.
“Our coaches always tell us fast-breaking is how we are going to win, so the whole time we were trying to speed them up and run them,” Groves said. “We knew if we kept trapping, kept pressuring them, they were going to eventually turn it over.”
Groves finished as one of five Wildecat players with nine or more points, with Eric Handy (11 points, 7 rebounds), Kalonji Calloway (11 points), Spender Ampofo (11) and Fred Robinson (9) all contributing to the balanced offensive attack.
In the loss, Diara Woodard produced a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds for Mt. Hebron.
While things got away from them late, the Vikings were very much in it for the opening three quarters. They scored the first six points of the game, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk by Woodard on their first possession.
Wilde Lake didn’t score its first points until 4:41 remained in the first quarter. Once that first basket went in though, the Wildecats settled in and closed the period with a 14-6 spurt that gave them their first lead of the night.
“It seemed like once we finally got that first lay-up the whole team exhaled,” Wingfield said. “We just had to get those playoff jitters over with.”
Wilde Lake didn’t trail at all in the second quarter, carrying a 26-23 lead into the half.
After intermission, however, Mt. Hebron found new life. A couple three-point plays by Woodard and Josh Bryant highlighted an 8-0 run to open the third quarter, helping the Vikings go back in front, 31-26.
But everything after that point was all Wildecats. Full-court pressure started to wear Mt. Hebron down, allowing Wilde Lake to take a 36-35 lead after the third quarter and then keep the momentum going at the start of the fourth.
“They did a great job of creating turnovers, which really was the difference in the game,” Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. “They played real hard and it was a great game plan … they made us play faster than we wanted to.”
In the fourth quarter, all eight of Wilde Lake’s field goals were lay-ups. The Wildecats attacked the ball defensively and then attacked the rim, never leading by fewer than seven points after their 8-0 spurt to open the final stanza.
“Once we got our confidence up we knew that they couldn’t stop us in the paint, so we just kept attacking,” Handy said.
With the win, Wilde Lake advances into a quarterfinal match-up Thursday against top-seeded J.M. Bennett.
“This was a big win for our confidence, getting ourselves back on track on the road,” Groves said. “Now it’s on the road again, but we know we can do it … just one game at a time.”
Wilde Lake 55, Mt. Hebron 46
WL (10-13): Handy 11, Groves 11, Calloway 11, Ampofo 11, Robinson 9, K. Jackson 2.
MH (6-17): Woodard 22, Herlihy 6, Trapuzzano 5, Andreas 4, M. Smith 4, Bryant 3, Duan 2.
Half: 26-23 WL.
Atholton 57, Hammond 28
The Raiders turned up the defense and held Hammond under 30 points for the third time this season, cruising to a 29-point victory on the road. Atholton got a team-high 13 points from Ethan Shapiro, along with another 11 points from Michael Bernetti.
“I think one thing we did really well was our defense and that’s what we’ve prided ourselves on all year,” coach Jared Albert said. “We did a good job controlling the boards and letting our defense create offense. We limited them to one shot almost the entire game.”
Atholton finished the game 20-29 from the foul line and had 11 different players score. Hammond was led by Andre McFadden’s 15 points in the loss.
The Raiders now advance to face Reservoir on Thursday in the region quarterfinals.
A (11-12): Brickous 2, Mason 2, Casey 6, D. Bernetti 6, Shapiro 13, M. Bernetti 11, Courtney 8, Purdue 2, Florenzo 2, Ballmer 3, Fleming 2.
Ha (0-23): Anderson 5, Washington 2, McFadden 15, Dontae Ross 4, Collins 2.
Centennial 53, Stephen Decatur 37
The Eagles established control of the game early, going ahead 18-6 after the first quarter, and never trailed the rest of the way. “We came out and were ready to go,” Centennial coach Chad Hollwedel said. “Joe Eads had our first six points of the game and we were scoring off our stuff in the half-court, really running our stuff well.”
Omari Ringgold (16 points) and Timi Tinuoye (14) led the way for Centennial, which withstood a small push from Stephen Decatur in the second quarter to eventually pull away for the double-digit win. Ty Hunter led Decatur with 22 points.
Centennial will play River Hill in the region quarterfinals Thursday.
C (15-8): Fletcher 6, Conley 2, Ringgold 16, Benson 2, DeVries 1, Eads 8, Strothers 4, Tinuoye 14.
SD: Engle 10, Ty Hunter 22, Dupont 1, De. Andrews 2, Copes 2.
Half: 23-17 C.
Northeast 67, Howard 63
N: Barnett 18, Andino 16, Smith 11, Coltey 7, Damsha 6, Fenzel 5, Stammer 2, Smoot 2.
Ho (4-19): D. Bartnik 16, Seeley 14, Anderson 11, Young 8, Malagar 6, Noble 3, Binkley 3, Von Nieda 2.
Half: 35-29 Ho.
Douglass 63, Glenelg 61
The Gladiators hit seven threes and led by three points at the half, but just didn’t have quite enough to hold off visiting Douglass. Glenelg, which was led by Matt Hammert’s 15 points, had a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer fall just off the mark.
D: Epps-Walker 12, Hurley 12, Dunson 11, Frager 9, Calhoun 8, Green 6, Barber 3, Johnson 2.
G (10-13): Hammert 15, Randle 13, Van de Wall 12, Livak 9, Abu 7, Oates 4, Helensky 1.
Half: 35-32 G.
Marriotts Ridge 70, Southern 58
Robert Davis finished with a game-high 22 points, including four threes in the first half and a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the foul line in the fourth quarter, to lead the Mustangs to an opening round win. Marquice Stringfellow added a career-high 12 points off the bench for Marriotts Ridge, which advances to face Largo in the next round.
MR (12-11): Davis 22, Delaney 12, Strongfellow 12, Caffes 8, Miller 6, Bryant 5, Najib 5.
S: Lindsey 15, Contee 14, Morrison 8, Taylor 7, Neal 6, Walters 6, Hultberg 2.
Chapelgate 70, Covenant Life 45
Ch (15-15): M. Frierson 17, Willis 15, G. Frierson 13, C. Grandy 13, M. Grandy 8, Obi 2, Olunaga 2.
CL: Thompson 14, Halowell 10, Marable 10, Mitchell 9, Lotinsky 2.
Half: 35-23 Ch.