Mount Hebron held its senior night before last night's Class 3A East region quarterfinal with Wilde Lake.
The Howard County champion Vikings started all seniors, and the pre-game festivities gave No. 12 Mount Hebron an early boost on the way to its 58-50 victory, its third of the season over the Wildecats and 15th straight overall.
"We had all senior starters, so we knew we had to win or go home," said Marc Carroll, who led the host Vikings (18-3) with a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds. "For us, there isn't going to be any next year. Having senior night definitely helped us out. It makes you feel good having your parents here telling you how good you are."
Wilde Lake, on the other hand, started all juniors. And the Wildecats started slowly, falling behind 7-1 and then 13-5 at the end of the first quarter.
"We just took too long to get into the game and 45 [Carroll] killed us on the offensive boards," said Wildecats coach Phil Chenier. "They came out more focused. We needed more urgency early on. By the time you get 20 points down, it's hard to come back."
Wilde Lake (6-14) trailed 34-19 at halftime and 42-19 early in the third quarter before launching a comeback.
Sophomore Brandon Young, brought up from JV at the end of the season, scored 14 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, blocked three shots and had two steals to spark Wilde Lake. Young is the nephew of Mount Hebron Hall of Famers Barry and Perry Young.
Young's layup to open the fourth quarter made it 44-31, and shortly after that, Kevin Showe sank three three-point baskets in a row for Wilde Lake and cut the lead to 49-40. Richard Parks' baseline jumper made it 49-42 with 4:02 to play. Mount Hebron's 23-point lead was cut to seven.
But Mount Hebron stalwarts Shawn Velazquez (13 points, five rebounds) and Aaron Rei-White (seven points, five rebounds) came through in the clutch to save the game.
"We played hard. It was a good win," said Carroll. "We're not a big team, but we play with heart and we play smart."
"They are well-coached, smart and play well together," Chenier said. "The reason they won the county championship is that they break down the defense so well and pick up the open man. They see the floor well, and No. 2 [Velazquez] is a great shooter, but will give it up in a heartbeat if he sees an open man."
Wilde Lake had won four of its previous seven games.
"I was definitely worried about them," said Vikings coach Mike Linsenmeyer, who was missing starter Drew Myers because he didn't attend school yesterday.