Long Reach staves off Wilde Lake

Gaither, No. 17 Lightning stifle upset hopes, 71-68

Boys basketball

High Schools

February 06, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The scenario was perfect for an upset.

Wilde Lake, hosting Long Reach yesterday, has played its best at home this season, as a 5-2 record there attests.

Wildecats point guard Troy Bridges, the architect of last season's upset of Long Reach in the regional playoffs, was back after missing three games with a leg injury.

And the No. 17 Lightning (15-3, 11-3 league), co-league-leaders with River Hill, might be caught looking ahead to a Friday night showdown with arch rival Howard.

But the Lightning proved to be a little too quick for the young Wildecats, and tore up Wilde Lake's dream script with a 71-68 victory.

Long Reach point guard Mike Smelkinson and forward Anthony Gaither posed the most serious problems for the Wildecats, although Smelkinson drew two fouls early and sat out almost a quarter.

"Smelkinson is a heck of a player," said Wilde Lake guard Jon Bacon. "He did a great job of breaking down our defense. He's quick and hard to stay in front of. He kept Long Reach together."

Gaither, a 6-foot-3 senior, led the Lightning with 24 points.

"Gaither posts up and seals well," said Wildecats coach Phil Chenier. "We did a decent job of rebounding, but we needed to be more dominant there to offset their quickness."

Gaither didn't think his team boxed out as well as it should have. And he didn't think anyone was stepping up to take charges when Bacon (17 points) made repeated drives to the basket.

"We could have played much better, but it was a good win," Gaither said.

It was a game of runs.

The game's biggest lead was by Long Reach at 24-15 following a 10-0 Lightning run. But Wilde Lake (6-11, 6-8) came right back with a 14-0 run to go ahead 29-24 with 1:53 left in the first half.

The three-point shot was an important part of Wilde Lake's offense, as the Wildecats sank eight of them, including one by Kevin Showe to give them a 32-28 halftime lead.

Long Reach opened the second half with its own three-point show, going on an 12-2 run that included treys by Jared Bradford (16 points) and Gaither to lead, 40-34.

Wilde Lake made a few runs thereafter but got no closer than three points.

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