During his sophomore season, Wilde Lake senior David Martin was touted by coach Lester Clay as the player who could put the middle-of-the road Wildecats' basketball program over the top.
That promise almost went unfulfilled. Martin disappointed as a sophomore, was academically ineligible last season, and missed three games this season for disciplinary reasons.
Yesterday, against defending Howard County champion Atholton, however, Martin appeared to have everything straightened out. He scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds as the Wildecats won, 59-52, at home.
It was Wilde Lake's third straight victory after opening the season with five losses.
And the win was certain happy news for Clay, who is recuperating from back surgery and has turned the coaching reins over to his mentor, former Wildecats coach Frank Rhodes.
"We've won every game since Martin came back," said Rhodes, who has run the team most of the season. "He's real coachable, takes the right approach to the game, and has calmed us down."
The teams traded leads for most of the first half until a Wildecats 10-3 run ended it. Martin scored six of those 10 points.
Wilde Lake's 6-foot-4 Jerome Parkinson, who keyed his team's defense with another hustling, all-out effort that included two blocked shots, dunked to end the half with the Wildecats leading, 29-24.
Atholton's two top players, Brian Boykins (nine points, six rebounds) and Tyrone Allmond (13 points, four rebounds), played subpar first halves.
"Our defense was stoping their ball movement, so Boykins and Allmond weren't getting the ball inside," Parkinson said. "At halftime, we told ourselves that as long as we can stop Boykins, we can stop their offense. We fronted him and got offside help."
Atholton (5-4 overall, 4-3 league) was its own worst enemy, missing all eight of its free throws in the first half. The Raiders were 6-for-18 at the line for the game.
Martin opened the second half with a driving basket and ended the third quarter with a put-back that maintained Wilde Lake's five-point lead, 41-36. Boykins sat out almost five minutes of that quarter in foul trouble.
Hugo Linares of Wilde Lake began the fourth quarter with a steal and layup, and Parkinson followed by sinking a 15-foot jumper, as the Wildecats gradually increased their lead.
After Martin's fast-break layup, they led 59-44, until Rhodes inserted the second team and Atholton ran eight points to end the game.
"Wilde Lake played well," Atholton coach Jim Alberz said. "They scratched and clawed and went to the boards. It was just like old times here."
Pub Date: 1/14/99