Sparrows Point's late comeback attempt last night was too little, too late as visiting Wilde Lake hung on to defeat the Pointers, 76-57, in a state Class 1A, Region II first-round game.
The sixth-seeded Wildecats will travel to Milford Mill for tomorrow's 7 p.m. semifinal showdown with the second-seeded Millers (18-2), who had a chance to scout their next opponent, courtesy of a first-round bye.
"We've been playing pretty well for about the last eight games but before that we were up and down," said Wilde Lake coach Paul Ellis. "Hopefully we're up a little now. I'm sure Milford Mill is going to be another story out there but we'll just do the best we can."
The Wildecats (12-11) showed just how good they can be as they raced to a 50-30 lead with 3:16 remaining in the third quarter. Wilde Lake thrived on the court-length pass throughout much of the game. When they weren't burning the third seed Pointers with the long pass, junior swingman Seth Willingham was lulling them to sleep with his three-point bombs.
Willingham hit four of six from three-point range and finished 20 points. Wilde Lake senior Deon Wingfield led all scorers with 21 and teammate Taronn Evans added 17 points, 80 percent of which came on breakaway layups.
Keeping the Pointers in contention was the Pointers sophomore guard Carnell Damon. Damon scored 16 points, followed by seniors Adam Burleson and John Berger with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The playoff jitters seemed to hamper both teams in the first quarter, but neither could take advantage of the others mistakes. Wilde Lake gave the ball away eight times in the first quarter that ended tied at 12-12.
Wilde Lake picked up the pace at the start of the second quarter and Sparrows Point couldn't keep up. Barring the one instance in the period when the Wildecats turned the ball over because no one was available to take the inbounds pass, Wilde Lake resembled a team worthy of advancing to the next round.
Willingham got the Wildecats going in the second period when he sank his second three-pointer. Wilde Lake took advantage of the Pointers failure to get back on defense and opened a 26-20 lead with 4:21 left in the half.
The Wildecats bumped the margin to 10 on Willingham's third three-pointer and went in at the half with a 33-24 advantage.
"They were quick getting back on the boards and that really hurt us," said Pointers coach Russ Lingner. "We've never been beat back on the boards like that but we knew they were quick because we saw last week against South Carroll."