A Wilde Lake team known for its explosive offense, flipped the script on Tuesday night in the 3A East region quarterfinals.
Locked up in a tie game through three quarters against top-seeded River Hill, the Wildecats buckled down on defense to hold the host Hawks to just a single point over the final eight minutes on the way to securing a 43-35 victory.
“In the huddle before the fourth quarter, we said to the guys that the only way we were going to get out of here was if we made stops. It was that kind of game where it wasn’t about scoring as much as it was buckling down on defense,” Wilde Lake coach Deon Wingfield said. “You know, this game really did show how much we’ve grown. We played some of our best defense of the season in a hostile environment with our season on the line.”
While Wilde Lake’s defense was shutting things down, Trea Keys was heating up for the Wildecats. The sophomore guard, who was held to just three points through the better part of three quarters, scored eight of his team’s final 12 points during an extended 12-3 run to close the contest.
“Really what I was thinking was just don’t force it, play my game and it will come to me … that’s what my coach told me a lot before the game,” said Keys, who came in averaging more than 19 points a game. “I had to not force anything, not get caught up in the hype.”
Marquis Bullett (14 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks) played a big role as well in the victory, which advances Wilde Lake (16-8) into a regional semifinal match-up against Centennial on the road Thursday.
On the other side, River Hill (16-7) simply went cold from the field at the most inopportune time. The Hawks, which were led overall by Jaden Martin (11 points), ended up shooting just 25 percent from the field on the night and failed to make a single field goal in the fourth quarter.
Complicating matters, River Hill made just one of eight from the foul line over the final eight minutes.
“Honestly, we got the shots we wanted and we executed our offense the way we wanted to. But when you shoot the percentages that we did tonight, it’s hard to win,” River Hill coach Matt Graves said. “You have to give credit to Wilde Lake, they played a part in it and they made free throws when it counted at the end to seal the game.”
Of Wilde Lake’s nine points in the fourth quarter, seven came from the free throw line.
As lopsided as the game was down the stretch, it was far from it during the opening three quarters. In fact, neither team led by more than six points until the final 30 seconds of the contest and the lead changed hands 11 times over the course of the evening.
The score was tied 22-22 at the half and again at 34-34 after three quarters.
That, however, was when the Wildecats went into lockdown mode. River Hill went scoreless for nearly seven minutes, scoring finally with 1:17 left in regulation on a foul shot by Luke Champion (6 points). By then, however, Wilde Lake had opened up its largest lead of the night.
“We just held our composure and just made sure we did what we had to do,” Bullett said.
Wilde Lake 43, River Hill 35
WL (16-8): Bullett 14, Keys 11, Barnes 7, David 6, Marshall 3, Joseph 2.
RH (16-7): Martin 11, Champion 6, Krause 6, Daniels 4, McKenna 4, Robinson 2, Okojie 2.
Centennial 61, Long Reach 57 (3A East)
The Eagles regrouped after a slow start, getting a season-high 18 points from Andrew Hohmann to lead the way to the victory over the visiting Lightning. The win advances Centennial into the regional semifinals at home on Thursday against Wilde Lake.
C (17-7): Hohmann 18, White 15, Addisu 12, Eudell 9, Ford 5, Williams 1, Taylor 1.
LR (9-15): Morgan 27, Chad Brown 11, Ekop 10, Young 5, Shupe 3.
Half: 29-21, LR.
Hammond 54, Northeast 49 (3A East)
The Golden Bears trailed 18-9 after the first quarter, but battled back to tie the game by halftime and ultimately prevail down the stretch. Ryan Ridgell (16 points) and Lee Goodson (11) led the way offensively in a win that advances Hammond into a region semifinal match-up on the road against Stephen Decatur on Thursday.
Ha (11-12): Ridgell 16, Goodson 11, Henry 8, Gordon 7, Evans 7, Woodson 5.
N: Rojas 15, McNeil 13, Volkman 7, Stewart 7, Fair 4, Christian 2, Cain 1.
Stephen Decatur 77, Atholton 43 (3A East)
Century 49, Oakland Mills 44 (2A West)
C: Tucker 21, Norman 18, Rolfes 4, Owings 4, Roberts 2.
OM (8-16): Eaton 16, Hopkins 10, Tarver 8, Simpson 6, Wheelock 4.
Half: 21-15 C.