It took more than two quarters to get going, but Hammond woke up just in time on the road against Wilde Lake on Friday night.
After trailing by 14 points early in the second half on the road, the Golden Bears rode the strong play of the junior duo of Nyelle Allen and Imani Reid down the stretch to come all the way back for a 42-40 victory.
It was Allen that provided the game’s decisive basket, finishing a put-back lay-up with two seconds left. Her score helped lift Hammond (2-3, 4-3) to its third straight victory, while at the same time denying Wilde Lake (0-5, 1-8) in its bid for the team’s first county win of the winter.
“I was proud of the way we finished, but we just talked about needing to stop putting ourselves in that position. We did the same thing last game [against Marriotts Ridge] and this can’t be who we are,” Hammond coach Mona Reid said. “We can’t show up when we feel like it and I think at this point it’s a mindset.
“We have the potential to be great, I really believe that. But we need to start bringing it for a full four quarters.”
Allen (14 points, 7 rebounds), who ended up scoring the final eight points of the night for Hammond, said she tried to keep putting herself in position to clean things up on the offensive glass with the game on the line.
On the game-winning basket, she corralled a missed shot by Reid (15 points, 15 rebounds) and quickly put it back in before the Wildecats’ defense could recover.
“It felt really good to be able to get that shot off and it went in. And it really was a confidence boost for me,” Allen said.
The loss spoiled the best game of the season so far for Wilde Lake sophomore Kalani Corkeron, who scored 18 points in the first half on the way to a game-high 24 overall. She hit five 3-pointers, including three during a first quarter where the Wildecats jumped out to a 15-8 lead.
Afterward Wilde Lake coach Rhonda Corkeron said she was extremely pleased with the entire team’s effort, but also acknowledged the team is still learning how to win.
“We have such a young crew … but they are coachable, they are aggressive and every game they are getting more and more confident. Now we just need to learn how to close out a game,” said Rhonda Corkeron, whose team has lost three county games now by six points or less. “The nice thing is that while we still haven’t gotten over that hump, we are getting noticeably better every game.”
Wilde Lake was ahead 24-13 at the half before coming out strong in the third quarter and extending its advantage to 14 points, 29-15, following a jump shot by Jazmia Perry (11 points) with 4:54 left in the period.
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From there, though, Hammond began slowly chipping away. The Wildecats lead was down to 32-23 by the end of the third quarter and then a 14-5 run to begin the final period allowed the Golden Bears to come all the way back and tie the game.
The two teams then exchanged baskets leading up the final possession where Allen emerged as the hero.
“The bench energy was really good and that got us pumped up through the game, which really helped us push through and win the game,” Allen said.
Hammond 43, Wilde Lake 41
Ha (2-3, 4-3): Reid 15, Allen 14, McInerney 5, Burns 4, Lindsey 3, Clark 2.
WL (0-5, 1-8): Corkeron 24, Perry 11, Richards 3, Wilson 3.
Half: 24-13 WL.