Senior forward George Hunter talks about the Wildecats’ 60-48 road win on Feb. 6.
HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Wilde Lake boys basketball coach Deon Wingfield needed his team to increase the tempo after its 21-point first half against Marriotts Ridge on Tuesday night.
He needed his players to bring the energy they brought on Saturday, when senior George Hunter said the Wildecats had a “really, really good practice.”
And he needed someone to help sophomore Marcus Mitchell, who in just his second varsity game hit three 3-pointers before halftime to keep the team within five points at the break.
“I kept emphasizing we had to use our athleticism and speed to speed this game up,” Wingfield said. “So we came in at halftime and talked about it, made those adjustments, and that’s what led to the press to speed the game up. ...That’s what helped us in the second half.”
Wilde Lake responded by scoring 10 points in first three minutes of the third quarter to regain the lead and never led up. Behind Hunter, who scored 12 of his 14 points after intermission and junior Trea Keys (14 points), the Wildecats built a double-digit lead by the end of the period and rode that advantage until the final whistle to secure a 60-48 road victory.
With the win, Wilde Lake (6-7 county, 7-11 overall) snapped its three-game losing streak.
“The keys to the game were moving the ball, the press in the second half was really good and just really good defense,” Hunter said.
Facing a five-point deficit, Wilde Lake began the second half with back-to-back layups from Hunter and senior PJ Joseph against the Marriotts Ridge zone defense. Then, after Mustangs junior and leading scorer Brandon Held finished an attempt in close — his first points of the game — Hunter converted an and-1 opportunity on the other end. Following a Keys 3-pointer, Hunter again created an opportunity for a three-point play.
He proceeded to make the free throw, putting the Wildecats back up, 31-30, at the five-minute mark of the third quarter.
In total, Wingfield’s team outscored Marriotts Ridge, 25-10, in the period.
“Coach Wingfield made some good adjustments after halftime, and we tried to counter those adjustments,” Mustangs coach Tim Brady said. “But we came out ice cold in the second half.”
Their offense was not much better in the first half, but Brady received enough production from a variety of players to stay with Wilde Lake throughout the opening 16 minutes.
Without Held and junior Luke Ingersoll — the team’s two leading scorers entering the contest — combining to score two points during that stretch, junior Ryan Lee paced Marriotts Ridge (4-9, 8-11) with seven points. Junior Amari Little added two 3-pointers, the second of which increased the team’s lead with the opening half winding down.
And if not for Mitchell, the Mustangs would have taken an even greater lead into the locker room.
Mitchell, a 5-foot-11 guard, played on the junior varsity team the entire season before being called him up before Wilde Lake played first place River Hill on Friday night. In looking at the statistics, Wingfield concluded the Wildecats needed another option on offense. He felt Mitchell could provide that scoring punch.
After scoring five points against the Hawks, Mitchell looked calm and in rhythm on his 3-point attempts in the first half. Three of those shots went down.
Wingfield said Mitchell looked more comfortable against Marriotts Ridge, and it led to the young guard playing almost the entire second half.
He capitalized on those minutes, too. With 1:39 left in the third quarter and Wilde Lake holding the momentum, Mitchell received a pass behind the 3-point arc with no Mustangs players around to contest him. Without hesitation, he rose, fired and drilled his fourth and final triple of the contest.
Brady responded with a timeout. Once in front, the Mustangs dug a hole they would not be able to recover from.
“I know [Mitchell] has that type of talent, but I didn’t know he could do this this early,” Hunter said. “He’s a great addition and good for the playoffs.”
River Hill kept its two-game lead atop the county standings by showing it can win low-scoring affairs, too.
The Hawks, who have the league’s top scoring offense, received six points from leading scorer Jaden Martin. They scored 25 points in the first half.
But that didn’t prevent them from winning their third consecutive contest. Senior Jacob Krause scored 13 points, senior Luke Champion added 11 points and the Hawks shot 77 percent (17-for-22) from the foul line.
RH — Krause 13, Champion 11, Daniels 7, Mann 6, Martin 6, McKenna 5, Okojie 4, Kraket 1.
Ha — Gordon 13, Henry 10, Aodu 6, Bourne 4, Evans 4.
Glenelg possessed the ball down two with about 50 seconds left but could not tie the score in its eventual hard-fought home loss to Oakland Mills.
The Scorpions, who received a game-high 15 points from junior guard Daeshawn Eaton, maintained a lead of six to eight points throughout the second half, Gladiators coach Jansen McMillan said. And while McMillan’s team crept within one possession, they couldn’t complete the comeback.
With the victory, Oakland Mills keeps its hopes of winning a county title alive. Coach Jon Browne’s team, which is on a six-game winning streak, is two games behind River Hill with three league contests remaining.
Reservoir rode a hot start and held on late to secure its third straight win.
The Gators exploded for 23 points in the first quarter and entered halftime with an 34-28 lead. They scored just eight points in the third frame, allowing Long Reach to close the gap, but ended the game strong offensively to hold on for the victory.
Sophomore Ryan Saunderson, who has been the team’s top scorer as of late, delivered again with a 14-point performance.
But perhaps the biggest news of this game — and maybe in the county — was the return of Long Reach forward Tre Morgan, who has been sidelined all season after suffering a lower leg injury in the fall.
Morgan dominated last year, ranking second in the league points (16.4) and third in rebounds (10.5) en route to earning first-team All-County honors. And had he been healthy, he likely would have challenged for Player of the Year.
An injury unfortunately derailed those plans, but his return provides the Lightning with a huge boost entering the final stretch of the regular season and playoffs. And while coach Andrew Lazzor said he will gradually work Morgan back into the rotation, he capitalized on limited minutes against the Gators, finishing with 12 points.
Re —Saunderson 14, Odunowo 11, Moore 9, Bradford 8, Mattocks 8, McCallum 3, Toler 3, Barrett 2, Ricketts 2.
LR — Jones 15, Morgan 12, Davis 11, Raymond Jr. 8, Dix 5, Martin 4, Olivis Jr. 2, Thompson Jr. 2.
Half: 34-28, Re
Centennial (7-6, 10-8) — 51, Westminster — 33
Entering Tuesday night, Centennial had won three straight games on three different occasions this season. But the previous two streaks ended there and actually served as the start of three-game losing streaks.
That wasn’t the case against Westminster, though, as the Eagles locked down defensively to secure their fourth straight victory heading into the final stretch of regular season county games.
C — Taylor 10, Eudell 8, Smith 7, Addisu 6, Hill 6, Ford 5, Hollwedel 5, Berkeley 2, Hohmann 2.