Wilde Lake travels to Hammond for a Howard County boys basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 30.
After two weeks off because of exams and snow, Hammond's high-powered offense got right back down to business on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Bears had four guys — Brandon Willis (25 points, 7 assists), Terrell Lamar (22 points, 10 rebounds), Matt Johnson (17 points) and Jarvis Doles (13 points and 16 rebounds) — score in double figures on the way to earning a 92-75 home win over Wilde Lake.
"I thought we shared the ball well on offense, some terrific ball movement. Defensively, though, we still have those two- to three-minute spurts where we flat out stink, and that consistency piece on defense is what has cost us a couple times this season," said Hammond coach Mike Salapata, whose team has scored 85 or more points now five times this winter. "But yeah, we can score the basketball. And, especially when we are moving the ball like we did today, we are incredibly dangerous on that end."
Hammond (9-2, 11-2) built its lead early on courtesy of a 9-0 run in the middle of the first quarter that saw four different guys score. Wilde Lake (2-9, 2-12), which was led by a career-high 19 points from Richard Samuels on the day, battled throughout the afternoon to stay close but never held a lead again after the opening three minutes.
The Golden Bears were ahead by three at the end of the first quarter and were able to open things up to an 11-point advantage by halftime, 42-31.
Lamar was particularly key to the second-quarter surge as the Hammond senior scored 10 points in the period — all by attacking the basket.
"At first my shot wasn't falling, so I decided I had to start driving and get to the rack," Lamar said.
Wilde Lake got itself back within eight on several occasions early in the third quarter, as Emmanuel Boateng (15 points, 11 rebounds) heated up with some strong play on the interior. But the Golden Bears' offensive attack again clicked into high gear midway through the period to break things back open.
A 23-8 run between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter helped Hammond to its largest lead of the game, 72-49.
Despite the large deficit, however, the visiting Wildecats never quit. Samuels continued his strong play and Nick David heated up to spark a 10-0 push in a span of just over a minute of game time midway through the final quarter to make it a 10-point game, 80-70, with 3:35 left.
It never got closer than that, but Wilde Lake coach Deon Wingfield said his team continues to show fight in what has been a trying season at times.
"We are playing in spurts and have still yet to put together a full game. But we never stop fighting, even in games like today where we dig ourselves a really deep hole," he said. "We just have to figure out a way to bring the energy we had during that fourth quarter to the start of the game."
Hammond ended up extending things over the final three minutes to the final 17-point margin, leaving Salapata overall pleased with the first game back for his team after such a lengthy layoff. But he was also quick to point out that there is still work to be done.
"To be honest, I feel like we've gotten out of the rut we were in right after the new year when we weren't playing good basketball … but at the same time we are still missing that consistency we need and that killer instinct mentality," Salapata said. "We are getting better, but we need to get to the point where that 20-point lead becomes 30 and we really put teams away. There's no excuse to have a team on the ropes and suddenly let them right back in it.
"It's part of growing as a team and I have confidence in this group that we will be able to figure it out these next couple weeks."
After trailing 10-8 after the first quarter, the Scorpions heated up before halftime to take a double-digit lead, 33-18, into the break. The team never looked back from there en route to staying undefeated in county play. Daniel Kiely led the way with a game-high 23 points.
OM (11-0, 13-1): Kiely 23, McFadden 12, Williams-Day 10, Harris 8, Wheelock 7, T. Hopkins 5, Estep 4, Seyfried 3, Smith 2, Tarver 2, Riss 2.
Re (5-7, 6-9): Miller 11, Phillips 10, Winters 6, Payne 6, Akinbinu 6, G. Garcia 1, Omorogbe 1.