Hammond wins 6th in row, 75-71 Boys basketball

February 19, 1993|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

With a Howard County crown looming ever closer, Hammond is peaking at the perfect time.

Yesterday at home, the Golden Bears captured their sixth consecutive boys basketball victory, 75-57 over Wilde Lake. With No. 19 Centennial's 68-61 win over Atholton, Hammond and Centennial are tied for first at 8-3 entering their showdown tonight.

Sophomore guard Mike Matthews paced Hammond (11-7), which led from start to finish, with a career-high 37 points and 12 rebounds. No teammates scored in double figures.

Despite the hot streak, Hammond coach Jack Burke and his players aren't satisfied, claiming that team cohesiveness is lacking. Guard Kris Jefferson, who scored nine points off the bench, described the Golden Bears as "a fist that's gradually starting to come together. "

"If we beat Centennial tomorrow we're going to be a fist," Jefferson said. "We're going to see that we're capable of doing what the newspapers and our coach have been saying we can do. A few of our players still don't believe it, but once we get that fist it'll be hard to stop us."

Wilde Lake (7-11, 3-8) played without starters Seth Willingham and Taronn Evans. Willingham, a point guard averaging 16 points, twisted a knee in the previous night's loss to Howard.

Senior forward Deonne Wingfield scored 34 points for the Wildecats, but it wasn't enough.

Matthews scored 22 points in the first half, 15 in the first period when Hammond spurted to a 28-12 edge.

The Golden Bears opened with a stifling, full-court pressure defense that throttled the Wildecats. Wilde Lake committed 10 first-period turnovers, most stemming from the press and resulting in quick Hammond points.

"We didn't have some of our normal players in there and some of the kids were really nervous," Wilde Lake coach Paul Ellis said. "It took them a little time to get used to playing. The full-court pressure isprobably where our inexperience showed more than anything else because Seth Willingham is the main guy we use against the press."

Early in the second quarter, Matthews' shot provided Hammond a 30-14 lead. But Wingfield led the Wildecats back to respectability. At 6-4, he scored 11 points in the Wildecats' 14-9 half-closing run, leaving Hammond with a 39-28 edge.

Wilde Lake, which trailed by 13 points after three periods, trimmed the deficit to nine points twice in the fourth quarter. The finale came with 3:53 to play, as Wingfield scored off an offensive rebound for a 62-53 game. But Matthews scored six straight points to provide Hammond a sizable cushion.

A county title by the Golden Bears would end Oakland Mills' five-year reign. After Centennial, they play Oakland Mills and Howard to cap the regular season.

"We're starting to get tired; it's getting late in the season," Burke said. "We have some critical games coming up and the kids are trying to loosen up a little bit."

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