The Western Tech boys basketball team have not had a losing season in eight years, but when the host Wolverines dropped a 53-47 decision to Owings Mills (5-4) on Wednesday night, it was their seventh loss in the first eight games and coach Mike Slepesky put his team on alert.
“This is a players and coaches loss, but in terms of consistency on defense, we will be extremely aggressive and there will be no change in the call and no change in personnel and all of the sudden we just let off,” Slepesky said. “I hope these guys figure it out soon because 1-7 doesn’t bode well for me and doesn’t sit well.”
Against Owings Mills, it was the inconsistencies on offense and defense that cost them in the end after they rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and took the lead, 45-44, on a three-pointer by senior Carlos Greenwood with 2:19 left in the game.
Owings Mills answered with s conventional three-point play by Sherod Keary (team-high 12 points) that gave them a 47-45 lead with two minutes left.
A three-pointer by Christian Smith made it 50-45 with 55 seconds left and Justin Wynn scored a layup to cut the lead to three, but that was the closest the Wolverines could get.
Wynn had five points during the 11-0 run, including a conventional three-point play with 4:10 left that cut the lead to 40-36 with 4:10 remaining.
Greenwood had three steals and six points during the 11-point surge and added the three-pointer that gave the Wolverines the lead.
“Our defense leads to offense and tonight during that 11-0 run, it was apparent we were ready to play, but then the turnovers came back to bite us and the inefficiency on offense and not drawing fouls, and that’s why the better team won,” Slepesky said.
Owings Mills also controlled the boards against the Wolverines because they held a big size advantage with the twin towers of Obie Holloway and Keary, who were well over six-feet.
The Wolverines countered the Eagles height advantage by pressing and forcing seven turnovers in the first quarter when they took an 8-2 lead.
Leading 31-26 entering the fourth quarter, the Wolverines started with five straight points by Chris Bullock, including a three-pointer, and they led 36-26 with 6:55 left.
The Eagles stretched the advantage to 11 points before the Wolverines made their comeback that they couldn’t finish.
It was the second loss in a row to the Eagles by six points. The Wolverines fell to them, 62-56, in a holiday tournament.
Western Tech had a 13-point lead in that contest.
“We are inexperienced and young and we are able to compete with every team, and we have not been blown out, no matter what the boxscore says,” Slepesky said. “We have been down single digits at some point in the second half against every team we played.”
Slepesky lamented the fact that several former players opted to not play basketball for various reasons this season.
“We have two freshman on varsity and we’ve only had one in eight years, ”he said. “That right there tells me we are already young. On top of that, out of the 23 potential returners, only 11 guys were committed enough to return.”
The guys that did stay on the court have bonded despite the losses.
“We are fighters, we are scrappy and we play so hard that we make missteps and we force things and that comes with youth and inexperience,” Slepesky said.“I have full faith next year and the year after that, we have talent in the program and my JV is bigger than varsity right now.”
Wynn won’t be around next year, so he’s trying to make the most of his senior season after a tough start.
“Obviously, we can’t score the ball as well as past years, but if we can average the [same] points that teams score against us, then we should be able to turn the season around. It all starts with defense,” he said.
Wynn and Slepesky have both enjoyed the team’s camaraderie.
“We have good chemistry, we are just not executing like we should,” Wynn said.
“As frustrating as it is to be 1-7, I also know that this group has worked harder than some of my other seven teams event if the results don’t show,” Slepesky concluded.
Owings Mills 53
Sherod Keary 12, Christian Smith 9, Obie Holloway 8, Chris Bullock 7, Hazei Kyree 6, Maurice Davenport 5, Darryl Cephus 4, Keon Smith 2.
Western Tech 47
Justin Wynn 16, Mike Jolley 10, Carlos Greenwood 9, Joaquin Rice 7, Jaylen Frazier 2, Zion Antoine 2.