Wilde Lake coach Paul Ellis expected good things from 6-foot-2 senior forward Aaron Peterson this season.
But when Peterson got off to a slow start, he soon found himself not starting.
"I had him ticketed as a starter early on, but he's just coming around as I thought he would," Ellis said. "When he hustles, he plays well."
Peterson hustled last night and led the Wildecats to a 55-44 victory over Howard by scoring 17 points.
"He's our sleeper," said 6-foot-7 Wilde Lake center Carl Jackson (15 points). "Nobody else knows about him."
Peterson started last night only because of a system Ellis uses in which he picks a different senior captain for every game.
"I usually try to start that captain," he said.
Peterson kept the Wildecats in the game early by scoring seven points in the first quarter, including the last five points of the period.
Howard (4-7 overall, 1-2 league) led by senior center Seikou Hayes' six points and by sophomore forward Colin Izzard's five points, held a 17-12 first-period lead. The Lions took advantage of eight first-period Wilde Lake turnovers. The Wildecats finished the game with 22 turnovers.
Howard held on to a 28-22 lead at halftime.
"They out-hustled us in that first half," Jackson said. "At halftime, Coach gave us a good pep talk and we came out playing harder."
Jackson, who had scored only five points in the first half, scored six in the third quarter. Peterson also scored six points that quarter.
Peterson's drive tied the game at 28-all, and his layup tied it at 30.
Jackson's rebound basket gave the Wildecats their first lead, 32-31, with 2:55 left in the third period.
Wilde Lake's Jeff Johnson made the first of his two three-pointers for a 35-31 lead, and Peterson scored on a layup off an inbounds play, giving the Wildecats a 37-31 advantage.
Johnson's three-pointer to start the fourth period and Peterson's driving layup made it, 44-33, and Howard never challenged from that point.
Last night's home victory at River Hill ended an impressive week for the Wildecats (5-5, 2-1), who upset Glenelg on Monday and lost by two points to heavily favored Atholton Wednesday. Atholton had beaten Wilde Lake by 16 points in a holiday tournament.
"We're not getting any respect in the county," Jackson said. "Everyone thinks they'll beat us."
Peterson said, "Atholton underestimated us."
One of the reasons for Wilde Lake's turnaround has been Jackson's ability to stay out of foul trouble this week.
"And it's just taken us a long time to adjust because we graduated so many seniors," Jackson said.
"Our bench played well and we played with team unity tonight," Peterson said.