Atholton is tough in clutch to edge Wilde Lake

January 25, 1996|By Chuck Acquisto | Chuck Acquisto,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Atholton coach Jim Albert could not believe the Raiders' first-half luck.

With Wilde Lake senior center and top scorer Carl Jackson spending much of the first two quarters on the bench saddled with two fouls, the Raiders romped to a 17-point lead.

But luck wasn't enough. Atholton's heavy substitution, sloppy ball handling and the return of the 6-foot-8 Jackson's low-post presence turned a would-be blowout into a back-and-forth contest.

Atholton (7-4, 4-1) finally overcame a late 55-51 deficit to win in overtime over the Wildecats, 73-66.

"We just didn't play defense, team defense, and that got our low-post players in foul trouble," said Jackson, who lamented the fact he never got into the flow of the game until the fourth quarter.

Wilde Lake senior Jeremy Young (16 points) drilled a three-pointer with six minutes left in regulation to give the Wildecats (4-6, 2-2) a 50-47 lead. A Jackson turnaround jumper, followed by another Young three-point basket forced Atholton, down 53-47, to spend a timeout.

"Down the stretch, our seniors came up big for us, especially Nat [Watkins] with his steals near the end of regulation," said Albert, who got 20 points from senior guard Tyrone Allmond and 18 from senior guard Matt Hahn.

Down 55-51, Watkins (a team-high 22 points) recorded the first of three consecutive steals by the Raiders. His two free throws were followed by Hahn's mid-court steal and subsequent layup.

Watkins' second steal within 30 seconds resulted in a layup and successful foul shot that pushed Atholton in front, 58-55, with 1:22 in regulation.

Atholton's run began when Jackson (10 points, eight rebounds) fouled out with just over two minutes left in regulation.

However, Wilde Lake senior Devon Ali, who tallied a team-high 17 points, produced two key lay-ups in the final minute of regulation that helped send the game into overtime tied at 60.

Atholton never trailed in overtime, taking the lead for good, 66-64, on Hahn's two free throws.

A Watkins low-post assist to senior teammate Marc Horner gave Atholton a 68-64 advantage with a minute left and Raiders senior guard Keith Jefferson sealed the win with a steal and layup.

"Our blowing the lead in the first half was my fault because I think our substituting took us out of our game," Albert said.

"Don't get me wrong, the kids off the bench played hard, but Wilde Lake was able to seize an advantage at that moment and we just couldn't get it back."

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