Just like last year, Wilde Lake's boys basketball team is peaking atthe right time -- the playoffs.
The Wildecats, showing a new-found confidence after breaking Oakland Mills' 12-game winning streak last Friday, crushed South Carroll Monday at Wilde Lake, 71-56.
The 'Cats needed the win to bolster their chances of catching Brunswick for the No. 2 seed in the Class 1A, Region 2 tournament that begins Monday. That ranking would guarantee them an opening round bye in the tournament.
Following Monday's contest, both Wilde Lake (10-9 overall, 7-5 league) and Brunswick had two games left this week. The 'Cats need to win both and Brunswick has to lose one for Wilde Lake to capture the No. 2 seed.
If that scenario fails, Wilde Lake will be the No. 3 seed and play host for the opening-round game on Monday.
Based on their recent play, the Wildecats appear ready to repeat as regional champions. Wilde Lake moved this year from Class 2A toClass 1A, which consists of smaller schools. The new classification should make the road to a state title a little easier.
The top seed in Wilde Lake's region is Milford Mill.
To get to the state playoffs at College Park, however, the Wildecats must avoid the kind of first quarter they displayed Monday against South Carroll (11-10).
Wilde Lake started by making just three of 18 shots and fell behind, 14-6.
The 'Cats finally heeded a second-quarter wake-up call by turning up the defense. That led to a 23-point quarter where the lead changed hands 12 times. Wilde Lake still trailed at halftime, 31-29.
But another 23-point effort in the third quarter buried the Cavaliers, who lacked the quickness and depth to keep up with Wilde Lake.
The 'Cats played all 12 team members, and 11 of them scored. Coach Paul Ellis' second team performed better than the starters.
"That happens sometimes," Ellis said, obviously savoring the multitude of coaching moves available with such a wealth of talent.
Darryl Bell (10 points) enjoyed a solid shooting night. Ira Crawley (eight points)and Ramone Myers (eight points) shared the low post position. And Pat Brown (seven points) had his best scoring game of the season.
Inaddition, guard Andre Martin displayed defensive intensity and made a few outstanding assists.
Wilde Lake's leading scorer, George Bradford, got just four points -- all on free throws. He sprained his ankle in the first quarter.
The game's turning point was a technicalfoul against South Carroll's Bryan Stauch with the Cavs leading in the third quarter, 37-33. Taronn Evans (12 points) sank both free throws, touching off a 17-4 Wilde Lake run that left the 'Cats leading, 50-41.
Jean-Phillipe Traore sank a three-point basket right after the free throws, giving Wilde Lake a lead, 38-37, that it never relinquished.
South Carroll coach Jim Carnes drew a technical in that quarter after protesting several calls by the referees.
Considering Wilde Lake's talent, Carnes said, he didn't expect his team to win Monday's game. The Cavs are battling Centennial for the second seed in the Class 3A, Region 3 playoffs.
South Carroll's defeat means Centennial must win one more game to earn the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A.
Centennial was scheduled to play at Hammond yesterday, and is at home against Oakland Mills Thursday.