Brittany Kelley's absence for Centennial was a big help to Wilde Lake last night.
Sophomore forward Ashley Myrick recorded 19 points, 21 rebounds and five steals and freshman guard Tiffany Der chipped in 17 points to propel the Wildecats to a stirring, come-from-behind, 49-41 overtime win over the visiting Eagles.
Wilde Lake trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, but tied the game at 39 at the end of regulation. Myrick, the team's leading scorer with a 14.4 average before last night's game, scored six of her team's 10 points in the extra session.
"This is great," said Myrick, whose Wildecats (9-10 overall and 8-9 in the county) won for just the fourth time in their last nine games. "We have momentum to go into the playoffs and our last three [regular-season] games. This boosts our confidence."
Centennial (9-9, 8-8) got a game-high 23 points, four steals and three rebounds from Kelley, but the sophomore forward was the only player to reach double digits.
She missed much of the second half due to foul trouble and the entire overtime period after she collected her fifth and final foul with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter.
How critical was Kelley to her team? With Kelley in the game, the Eagles outscored Wilde Lake, 34-18. Without her, Centennial was outscored, 31-7.
"Our plan was to force her out because she's a good player," said Der, who contributed five rebounds and five steals. "We got more confidence when she was out. That's when we got the lead, and it pumped everybody up."
The Wildecats had few answers for Kelley in the first half, when she scored 16 points and paced the Eagles to a 22-12 halftime lead.
But when she drew her fourth foul with 5:26 left in the third quarter, Wilde Lake enjoyed a 19-5 run to take a 35-29 lead with 5:54 left in the fourth period.
That's when Kelley returned, and the Eagles responded by scoring 10 of the next 12 points.
After Kelley picked up her fifth foul, Der hit a short jumper in the lane to tie the score at 39 and send the game into overtime.
The Wildecats scored the first eight points of overtime.
Centennial coach Ed Holshue could have used Kelley's absence as an excuse, but he chose to point out the team's ineffectiveness from the field (12-for-45 shooting for 26.7 percent) and the free-throw line (13-for-28).
"We had opportunities to win," Holshue said. "My other kids have to learn to step up. This can't be a one-man situation."