Howard coach Craig O'Connell would have preferred that his team beat host Wilde Lake yesterday. But not even the Lions' 53-45 loss could dampen the respect and pride he has for his team.
"They won't quit," O'Connell said, "and that's the type of team I like to coach. We didn't win, but that's the best game they've played all year."
No. 15 Howard (2-3 overall, 2-1 league) trailed, 44-29, after Toni White's three-point basket with 3: 16 left in the third quarter. But the Lions outscored No. 8 Wilde Lake, 16-9, the rest of the game and narrowed their deficit to 46-40 on Chanelle Carter's basket with 5: 22 to play.
Then, White answered with her third three-point basket of the game. And her twin sister Lashon stole the ball, passing to Toni for another basket and a 51-40 Wilde Lake lead with 4: 48 to play.
Baskets by Carter, who led Howard with 13 points, and Evelyn Nkwenti (10 points), made it a seven-point game, 51-44, with 2: tTC 27 left, but the Lions could get no closer.
"Even though we lost, it was a good game for us," said Carter, whose team was coming off an upset victory last Friday at Hammond. "We're improving. It's early in the season. We have a lot of time."
The defending county champion Wildecats (4-0, 3-0) are the only county team without a league loss. Glenelg and Oakland Mills suffered league losses for the first time yesterday against Mount Hebron and Hammond, respectively.
Wilde Lake has the county's deepest team -- nine of 12 players scored against Howard, led by Toni White's 17 points. And against Howard, which had eight players available, the Wildecats wanted to run. They did.
"Wilde Lake pushed us to their credit," O'Connell said. "They're a very good team."
Wilde Lake's press created numerous turnovers against the slower Lions, and except for early in the fourth quarter, when Howard made its run, the Wildecats boxed out better and controlled the boards.
Still, O'Connell said his team is improving and that yesterday's game, despite the loss, was another step in that direction.
Pub Date: 12/18/96