Wilde Lake has found out it helps to have some "Neon" in its basketball lineup.
Deon "Neon" Wingfield lighted up Howard for 19 points to shine the way to a 72-59 Wilde Lake victory over Howard Friday night.
The win was Wilde Lake's third in four league contests, and it pumped the Wildecats up for next Wednesday's crucial game with league-leading Oakland Mills.
Ten of Wingfield's 19 points came in the fourth quarter, when Wilde Lake (5-5 overall, 3-1 league) broke open a tight game.
The Lions, losers of eight straight games, pulled within three points, 52-49, on a power move inside by Ed MacLemore.
Butthe Wildecats worked a fast break culminating in Matt Nesbitt's layup. And Wingfield then scored two consecutive hoops inside, one off a rebound, making it 58-49.
Yaphet Oliphant banged home a three-point shot for Howard (2-8 overall, 0-4 league) making it 58-52.
Then,George Bradford, who led all scorers with 21 points, scored back-to-back baskets to bury Howard.
Wingfield made sure the Lions stayed buried by hitting four free throws and putting in a rebound down the stretch.
"He's been a really pleasant surprise lately," Wilde Lakecoach Paul Ellis said of Wingfield, a 6-foot-3 junior forward who came off the bench four minutes into the game and played the post position Friday.
The 19-point performance represented Wingfield's best varsity effort. He averaged only eight points for the junior varsity last season.
"I'm just tired of losing," Wingfield said. "I'm mainly expected to rebound, but I can score, too."
His short jumper was deadly, as he hit three in the first half and three more in the second half.
Wingfield credits his improvement this season to time spent last summer on the basketball courts of Baltimore.
"I practiced a lot against some good competition all summer, and it paid off," he said.
The Wildecats were coming off a loss to Glenelg Wednesday and needed a win to stay close in the league championship race.
Howard was a pesky opponent that rallied from an eight-point deficit atthe beginning of the second quarter to tie the game at halftime, 26-26.
They did it with defense, creating nine Wilde Lake turnovers that quarter and forcing the 'Cats into a 4-for-15 shooting performance from the floor.
But in the third quarter, Wilde Lake pulled awayagain, getting some balanced scoring from Wingfield, Bradford, Nesbitt, Darryl Bell, Pat Brown and Ramone Myers. Nesbitt scored seven of his nine game points that quarter.
Wilde Lake also received some excellent defense and passing from point guard Andre Martin.
"The defense broke it open," Ellis said.
Howard coach Rich Jenkins said his team has had trouble rebounding all season.
"Wilde Lake was quicker and out-hustled us for loose balls," Jenkins said. "And you can't keep giving them two or three shots."
Oliphant led Howard with 15 points, and MacLemore had 10.
All three of Wilde Lake's league wins have come at home. But Wednesday's game is at Oakland Mills.