With one final chance to build some momentum going into the playoffs, Wilde Lake didn’t squander the opportunity against visiting Mt. Hebron on Monday.
Kyle Ichrist scored 18 points, including 14 in the opening half, to help lead the Wildecats to a 68-63 victory.
“It’s always great to win, but especially having lost the last two games, it was that much bigger. Winning the last game of the regular season always gives you those positive thoughts going into the playoffs,” said Wilde Lake coach Deon Wingfield. “Hopefully now we can have a great week of practice and get ourselves ready to build on this Friday.”
Overall, Wilde Lake (6-13, 6-16) has been playing better of late with wins now in four of its last seven games. The team is likely to be the sixth seed in Section I of the 3A East region when the playoff draw is released on Tuesday morning.
Mt. Hebron (6-12, 9-12), meanwhile, has been trending in the other direction. The Vikings have lost eight of nine and, including Monday’s game against the Wildecats, four have been by single digits.
Wilde Lake exerted its will early on in the regular-season finale for both teams. Richard Samuels (16 points) converted a put-back on the opening possession of the game and that kick-started an early 11-3 run for the Wildecats.
Even as the Vikings made runs to close their deficit during the rest of the first half, getting inspired play from Cleveland Horton (team-high 18 points) and Brooks Pearce (10 points) to close within one on multiple occasions, Wilde Lake never lost the lead in the opening 16 minutes.
Ichrist scored all over the floor, hitting two threes to go with a mix of lay-ups and mid-range jumpers, to help Wilde Lake take a 34-30 lead into the half. Coming off a career-high 35 points in a loss to Oakland Mills on Saturday, the Wildecats forward has been stepping up his game in the absence of two starters the last three outings.
“Kyle this year has been our most consistent player, as well as our leading scorer. Coming off his game over the weekend against Oakland Mills, you could see that his confidence was there,” Wingfield said. “His leadership has been there as well, which has been even more important during this stretch where we have been missing a couple players. He’s put a little more on his shoulders.”
Mt. Hebron did come out in the third quarter and get five straight points from Lance Madden to take the team’s first lead of the game, 35-34. But from that point on, Wilde Lake answered with a 17-7 run to take its largest lead of the night, 51-42. Nick David (13 points) got going in that third quarter to help spark the spurt.
The Vikings kept battling, again getting within a point on a couple occasions, but never again pulled into a tie or took the lead down the stretch. Wilde Lake converted at the foul line in the final 30 seconds — making 5 of 6 —to stay ahead.
“In the last week or so, going back to our wins against Howard and Atholton, I think the confidence has come up a lot and these guys have started to believe that they can execute in close games,” Wingfield said. “Whether its making free throws or making stops defensively, we are starting to make a few more of those plays down at the end.”
Wilde Lake 68, Mt. Hebron 63
WL (6-13, 6-16): Ichrist 18, Samuels 16, David 13, Barnes 9, Cromartie 6, Cantwell 3, Robinson 2.
MH (6-12, 9-12): Horton 18, Pearce 10, Prox 8, Schroeder 8, Madden 7, Bates 4, Linsenmeyer 4, Shriver 2, Johnson 2.
Half: 34-30 WL.
Centennial 53, River Hill 25
C (13-6, 15-7): Brown 13, White 12, Smith 6, Fowler 5, Merkey 5, Williams 4, Hohmann 4, Maher 2, Addisu 2.
RH (4-15, 5-17): Mitchell 11, Martin 6, Daniels 2, DeSimone 2, Clark 2, Isaac 2.
Half: 20-9 C.
Glenelg 75, Marriotts Ridge 52
G (12-7, 13-9): Currie 12, Wade 11, Walsh 10, Piwowarski 9, Davis 7, Winn 6, Powell 6, Mills 5, Koele 4, Kittleman 2, Taylor 2, Thai 1.
MR (3-15, 4-17): Wright 11, Heard 11, Lunsford 11, Whitacre 10, Geiger 5, Jones 2, Talentino 2.
Half: 37-20 G.