Atholton fends off Wilde Lake, 73-69

Raiders' 20-point lead shrinks under press, then foul shots at :14 secure win

High Schools

Boys basketball

January 30, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

After surging to a 20-point lead midway through the third period, Atholton's boys basketball team then struggled against Wilde Lake's press and barely held off a furious Wildecats rally before winning last night at Atholton, 73-69.

Wilde Lake, which had its seven-game winning streak stopped, pulled within two points with 20 seconds left to play. But Atholton center Jonas Vaitkus sank two free throws to seal the victory with 14 seconds left.

The Raiders (11-3 overall, 11-1 league), who are tied with River Hill for first place, won by shooting 56 percent (26-for-46) from the field, including eight three-point baskets. Atholton shot 68 percent (13-for-19) at the foul line.

Wilde Lake (10-4, 8-3), which desperately needed a win to stay in the county race, shot 46 percent (29-for-62) from the field.

"Atholton shot extremely well," said Wilde Lake coach Phil Chenier. "Everybody scores on their team. They are unselfish and well-coached."

Craig Sauers led the Raiders with 21 points, including four three-point baskets.

"We handled their zone press easily in the first half and were hitting on all cylinders and getting offensive rebounds," said Sauers, a 6-foot-3 guard. "But their man press bothered us in the second half."

Vaitkus scored 15 points and had seven rebounds.

"Wilde Lake is really athletic and they got us to rush our offense in the second half, but our guys have good chemistry and are disciplined," said Vaitkus. "This was a good experience for us."

Atholton committed 25 turnovers, 17 in the second half. The Raiders scored twice in a row off their own press to lead 51-31 in the third quarter.

But Wilde Lake, which lost to Atholton by 56-39 earlier this season, then started making repeated steals and its shots started falling. The Wildecats ended the third quarter on a 9-1 run, trailing 52-40.

Steve Bacon was instrumental defensively in bringing back the Wildecats, and he scored four of those nine points.

Tom Showe (12 points) sank three three-point baskets and scored 11 points in the fourth quarter for the Wildecats.

Wilde Lake's Brandon Young scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and led all rebounders with 10. Brandon Graham scored 17 points.

"Young played an outstanding game and left it all on the court," said Chenier. "Our kids fought tooth-and-nail to get into position to win. We created turnovers, but we hurt ourselves by not rebounding well and we missed a lot of layups."

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