Unranked Atholton rattled No. 20 Wilde Lake with a late rally before falling, 38-33, yesterday in a Howard County league game.
The host Wildecats (6-7 overall, 2-4 league) led by as many as 15 points after three quarters, but Atholton closed within 35-30 with 1:35 left in the game.
Lea Nichols found Aisha Walcott for a 12-footer to cap an eight-point Atholton run that pulled the Raiders closer than they had been since early in the second quarter.
"They were quick and they were pesky on defense," said Wilde Lake coach Kelly Rosati. "They kept coming back, and that's the sign of a good team."
Wilde Lake, playing without injured senior guard Kim Driessen, struggled at times just to hold onto the ball. In a five-minute period spanning the break after the third quarter, the Wildecats turned the ball over eight times and scored only on four free throws.
Later, after the Raiders cut the lead to five, Wilde Lake continued its downswing, turning the ball over on its next two possessions. But the Raiders could not take advantage.
Anika Middleton finally broke the rally when Natalie Froman saved a ball headed over the end line and flipped it to Middleton for a short jumper. That put the Wildecats on top 37-30 with 1:02 to go.
Atholton made one final surge when Stephanie Van Deusen, who scored a game-high nine points, hit a three-pointer from the corner to pull within 37-34. But with just 13 seconds left, the Raiders (5-9, 1-5) had run out of time.
"Clearly, Wilde Lake was more athletic and they had bigger kids, but we had a shot there at the end. I couldn't be more proud of the kids," said Atholton coach Paul Eckert, whose squad outscored Wilde Lake 17-7 in the final quarter. "Today, hopefully, we found the intensity level we need to finally put together a good 32 minutes."
The Raiders have struggled in at least one quarter all season. Yesterday, it was the second when they did not score a point.
Early on, Atholton used its mid-range jump shots to open up an 8-2 lead. On the other hand, Wilde Lake hit just three of its first 15 shots, and two of those came in the final 45 seconds of the quarter.
As Atholton went 0-for-15 in the second quarter, however, the Wildecats ran up a 21-8 halftime lead.
"We weren't running our offense," said Atholton forward Nicole Blankenship, the team's only senior. "At first, I think we were all excited because we were winning, and we all let down in the second quarter."
For Atholton, this season has been somewhat of a comeback despite the lopsided record.
"Slowly but surely, you can see steps being made," said Eckert, who has four upperclassmen on the roster. "We're a better team than we were last year, although I don't know if that will show up in the left-hand column because of the strength of competition in this county."
The Raiders had just come off successive losses to No. 2 Hammond and No. 6 Mount Hebron, but they still have a shot at earning a Class 2A regional playoff berth.
"I think we're going to make the playoffs," said Blankenship. "Until Coach announced we had a chance, nobody realized it. Now we think we have a chance and everybody is hustling and working together."
* Oakland Mills 47, Glenelg 45, 2OT: Lauren McHargue had 24 points and 12 rebounds to power host Oakland Mills (6-6, 3-3) to an upset of No. 16 Glenelg (11-3, 4-2) in a Howard County League game.
McHargue's jumper with 11 seconds left in regulation forced the first overtime, and Glenelg's Camey Brian forced the second with a basket at the buzzer. Missy Singleton's three-pointer with less than a minute left helped ice the Scorpions' win.
* Mount Hebron 71, Centennial 29: Senior Rachel Cimmier led all scorers with 22 points as No. 6 Mount Hebron (8-5) routed host Centennial (2-12) in a Howard League game. Teammate Emily Yanero had 13 points to give her 1,000 in her career.