Wilde Lake's Steve Bacon remembered his older brother beating Long Reach one year, but the senior guard had never beaten the Lightning. Now he has.
With Bacon part of a constant double-team against Mike Smelkinson, Long Reach's 5-foot-4 point guard and leading scorer, the Wildecats' defense was able to control the Class 3A East region semifinal game, and upset the Lightning, 54-52, before a packed house at Long Reach.
No. 20 Wilde Lake (19-5) won its ninth straight game and 16th in its past 18, and will play Gwynn Park at Charles Flowers in Prince George's County at 3 p.m. Saturday for the regional title.
Bacon and his teammates held off a Long Reach rally from a 50-43 deficit with 3:40 to play.
"What a special night," said Wilde Lake's Kevin Showe. "It was the biggest crowd I ever played in front of and it was rowdy. Mike [Smelkinson] is definitely the Player of the Year. He's one of the quickest players I ever played against and was their catalyst. We played a diamond-and-one defense and rushed two men at him whenever he touched the ball, so he had to give it up."
Smelkinson was held to six points, including one field goal. He averaged 18 points.
The Lightning tied it at 52 with 1:18 to play on two Brian Chesnut free throws.
But Showe (11 points) sank a game-winning layup with 55 seconds left. He had made a putback layup with 1:50 left.
No. 12 Long Reach (19-5) was 10-for-20 at the line and missed two free throws with 39 seconds left that could have tied it. Wilde Lake then missed the first shot in a one-and-one, and a jump ball was awarded to Long Reach with eight seconds left.
The Lightning tried to get the ball to Smelkinson on the baseline, but he had to give it up to Chesnut, whose shot rolled off the rim. Long Reach missed an attempted tip-in and Dane Randolph grabbed the rebound for Wilde Lake as time ran out.
Nate Yarborough, David Lucks and Sean Howard also helped Smelkinson.
The Wildecats had a balanced attack as Howard scored 10 points, Brandon Young nine, Brandon Graham nine and Bacon six.
Chesnut and Brian Hines each scored 13 for Long Reach, and Hines had nine rebounds.