Wilde Lake had only three days to practice as a team and took its time getting going last night at Northeast. But the Wildecats erased a 16-point deficit in the last 10 minutes, 35 seconds and edged the host Eagles, 78-76, in a matchup of ranked Class 2A teams.
No. 14 Wilde Lake trailed 16th-ranked Northeast, 59-43, before capitalizing on Eagles turnovers and technical and flagrant fouls in the late rally.
The winners, who also enjoyed some hot shooting in the latter stages, took only their fourth lead of the game, 73-72, on Randy Miller's jumper off the baseline with 2:03 left.
Northeast got two free throws each from Gene Pleyo and Craig Everett for a 76-73 edge with 36 seconds left, but Wilde Lake's George Bradford hit a three-pointer from the wing and Miller stole the ensuing in-bounds pass to score with 19 seconds to play.
Northeast had its chances from there, but Pleyo missed the front end of a one-and-one and Kevin Mursch threw the ball away after Steve Strauss' steal with five seconds to go.
"My kids have practiced three days," said coach Paul Ellis, who has five players who were members of the Wildecats' state 2A champion football team. "It was a really great effort on their part, because I didn't have them prepared.
"We were not prepared to play offense, but did play better defense [during the rally]. We did a good job defensively at the end and should be able to do that all the time," Ellis said.
Wilde Lake got 20 points from Phil Chenier Jr., who fouled out with 1:49 left, plus 18 from Joey Guyton and 17 from Miller. Bradford chipped in another 13, and Dave Friedmann played strong defense.
Northeast got a game-high 24 points from guard Steve Strauss and 18 from Pleyo, but coach John Barbour was left fuming.
"We had an 11-point swing on technicals and flagrant fouls. We beat ourselves, we just lost our composure," Barbour said.
"We had seniors who couldn't keep their composure. We went wacko, took bad shots and gave the ball away," Barbour said. "We didn't play Northeast basketball. I'm very, very disappointed, and we'll have to make some changes."