No. 2 Wise knocks off No. 1 Rock Creek Christian in boys’ basketball.
WISE 64, R.C. CHRISTIAN 58
After the game, Wise’s players jumped around the locker room and threw their arms over each others’ shoulders. They held their index fingers high and claimed their place as the region’s top team.
For months, the secondranked Pumas (14-0) had played like the area’s No. 1 team, players said. They just waited for someone to put the numeral in front of their name.
“I feel like since the summer, we put in so much work,” senior guard Michael Speight said. “You reap what you sow.”
They finally earned it Saturday. Their 64-58 win over topranked Rock Creek Christian, the only other undefeated team in the area, validated months’ worth of claims.
“We live in an area where the excitement is about the private schools,” Wise Coach Rob Garner said. “But there are some great public school programs out there. We felt like we were playing for all of them, too.”
Two months ago, when this game was originally scheduled before condensation on the floor caused it to be postponed, the Pumas might not have weathered Kenyante Williams’s rim-shaking dunk — and a foul shot afterward — in the first half. It tied the score at 25.
Instead, Wise responded with a 13-3 run to close the half. Darron Barnes, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season, threw down his own dunk at the other end on the next possession.
“That calmed us down and got our crowd going,” said Speight, who had a team-high 19 points. “We knew we had this.”
But out of halftime, Rock Creek (21-1) went on a 14-3 run to take a 46-44 lead with six minutes to play. The Eagles were powered by junior forward Jermaine Harris, who led all scorers with 22 points.
The strong Barnes — who at 6 feet 6 is too big to be a guard but too versatile to just play in the post — scored seven straight points to end the spree and keep the Pumas and Eagles neck and neck down the stretch.
“He’s an enigma,” Garner said. “And he’s a beast. He put us on his back in the fourth quarter.”
With a minute left, Speight hit a runner to give the Pumas a two-point lead.
“Another month,” Speight said. “You grow a lot in that time.”
Senior guard Brandon Howell drew a charge on Rock Creek point guard Sherif Kenney on the next possession. Rock Creek fouled, and Speight hit two more free throws. The crowd, clad in neon yellow Puma flourishes on black hoodies and T-shirts, erupted after the second shot swished through.
“We wanted to prove we were No. 1,” Speight said. “And we wanted to prove it more today.”