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The Aegis Sports

C. Milton Wright boys basketball has won four thrillers in a row, showing the growth of its young roster

C. Milton Wright boys basketball coach Mario Scott tells his team, “There’s no such things as small things, because if you put them in the right context, they’re huge.”

Free-throw shooting, passing and ball-handling are basic fundamental things, but when a game comes down to one or two possessions, they can mean a world of difference. Successfully employing those fundamentals has helped the Mustangs win their last four games by a combined 13 points. They won their most recent game against Patterson Mill, 49-48, on a winning shot with seven seconds left.

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“It’s been interesting for sure,” said Scott, the Mustangs’ first-year coach. “Some games we’ve given up sizeable leads and most recently against Patterson Mill it was one of these back-and-forth dogfights. Our motto this season has been, ‘Connect, communicate, compete.’ I feel like we’ve been gritting down at the end, no matter what mistakes we’ve made in the game, to find ways to win.”

C. Milton Wright's Kyle Ashman, left, celebrates with teammate Jordan Ross after Ashman's shot to put the Mustangs ahead late in the fourth quarter during a game Jan. 13 at Patterson Mill.

It’s the little things, and preparing for end-of-game situations, that have carried the Mustangs during this stretch.

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“We do a significant amount of situational work, because the goal of situational work is that when we’re in those situations in the game, I can look at them and say, ‘We’ve been here before.’ We emphasize the details,” Scott said.

“We’ve done a lot of situational stuff in practice that has prepared us for those kinds of things,” sophomore Dylan Sander said. “When we build big leads, we can lose them sometimes, we’re very mentally strong and it helps us in those situations and helps us push through and battle out.

“In practice, we shoot free throws after every water break. Everyone shoots 10 free throws for moments like that.”

C. Milton Wright is 8-2 this season and has only three seniors on its roster, relying on a lot of youth playing big minutes. Winning the way it has says a lot to the team’s leaders.

Mario Scott is in his first year coaching C. Milton Wright and has the Mustangs sitting at 8-2. They've won their past four games by a combined 13 points.

“From my perspective, with all the games coming down to the end, I feel we’ve really grown as a team,” senior Cooper Hichkad said. “Most of our starters the majority of our rotation is young players that have never been in these situations. I think especially with the influence of the coaches, we’ve learned a lot and grown over the past few games.

Scott often starts four sophomores and one junior. He believes his team is showing him the exact traits he is looking for.

“To have that kind of grit — we really emphasize grit and toughness and making sure we finish — that says a lot about them,” he said. “Despite things not always being perfect, in those moments where we have to have a stop or we have to knock down some free throws or we have to get a bucket, we’re able to do that.”

Having underclassmen dominate the minutes puts added emphasis on the veteran leadership that’s available. Scott points to Hichkad, someone who doesn’t see as much playing time as others but is invaluable for all he brings to the team.

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The C. Milton Wright bench begins to celebrate as the final seconds tick down during the team's win at Havre de Grace on Jan. 6.

“My leader is a senior that hardly plays at all, Cooper Hichkad, who’s a valedictorian, has a 5.0 [GPA],” Scott said. “He’s been a big, big, big advocate, even from the sidelines.

“Most of my kids, with the exception of one don’t have a lot of varsity experience and they’ve been finding their roles as the season progresses. But Cooper as a senior, as a kid that probably plays the least, has been very impactful in regards to keeping the kids motivated and focused, even from the sidelines.”

“Being a senior, I know there isn’t much more room for me to grow as a player, but I think I can contribute more than anybody else as a leader on the team,” Hichkad said. “I’m an adult now, when it comes to these sophomores, juniors, freshmen stepping up into this big role on the team. I think as a leader it’s my job to keep them grounded and keep them confident.”

With a new coach and a young roster, the Mustangs are building the culture to be a consistent winner in Harford County.

“We want to be the team that everyone wants to beat,” Sander said. “It’s always been Aberdeen, Edgewood, you always want to beat them. But we want it to make it where you gotta beat C. Milton to be the best. I think we’re doing a good job of building that.”


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