It was a tough day for both the Atholton boys and girls teams, but a great day for the Wilde Lake boys team.
Although it was only the consolation final of the Central Maryland Tournament, yesterday's 61-53 upset victory over host and three-time defending Howard County champion Atholton felt like championship victory to first-year Wilde Lake boys coach Lester Clay and his Wildecats.
Wilde Lake had recorded just one win against six losses until it upset the Raiders (3-4 overall, 3-0 league), who had lost to Magruder, 98-94, in double overtime in the first round. Wilde Lake was crushed by Sherwood, 82-41, in Friday's opener.
"Our team really needed a win and this was one of our most satisfying in a long time," Clay said. "This is the first time we played the way I wanted them to, and now they know that good things will happen if you play the way you should.
"We did the right things as far as execution, defensive pressure and knowing where the ball is. Now we have to build on it."
Quentin Collins (16 points) played his first full game for Wilde Lake (2-6, 1-3), and he gave his team the kind of dependable scoring threat it needed.
Atholton led early in the fourth quarter, 47-42, but Wilde Lake put together a 12-point run to go up 54-47 with 3: 36 left.
Collins and point guard Barrett Wragg (17 points) each scored four points during that run. Justin Brown came off the bench despite four fouls and sank two clutch baskets.
After Atholton closed to 56-51 with 2: 35 to play, Wragg clinched it with a three-point play off a fast-break layup.
"We're better than our record," Clay said. "I benched three players against both South Carroll and Howard and that cost us two games. "I was happy with the defense today because it created turnovers and cut down on penetration."
Atholton's girls team had a shot at its second tournament championship, trailing 38-33 with 6: 07 left to play.
And the tall Raiders squad seemed to have things going its way when Gaithersburg's top inside player, senior Megan Fitzgerald, fouled out a short time later.
Instead, Gaithersburg (3-4) spliced together a 10-point run to go ahead, 48-33. Atholton collapsed because its outside shooting went cold, Gaithersburg created turnovers and Atholton failed to penetrate Gaithersburg's zone.
Laura Kane (15 points) and Janel Thomas (13) led Gaithersburg, which won its first Central Maryland Tournament championship.
"Janel did a great job after our team captain [Fitzgerald] fouled out," Lady Trojans coach Tim Kowalchick said. "Atholton helped us out by missing its free throws."
Atholton (4-3, 2-1) shot 11-for-26 at the foul line.
Atholton coach Paul Seadler said: "The difference was that Gaithersburg handled the ball better and they were a little quicker than us."
Sherwood won the boys championship, downing Magruder, 69-48.
Pub Date: 12/29/96