UPPER MARLBORO — On the first possession of overtime, Wise senior guard Brent Pegram was issued his fifth and disqualifying foul. Before stepping off the court, he had a message for his teammates
“I told them we’re not going out like this,” Pegram said. “And we was going to live to see another day”.
Thanks to the momentous contributions of Michael Speight (31 points), Brandon Howell (21 points) and Darron Barnes (17 points), No. 1 Wise erased a double-digit second half deficit to top No. 5 Eleanor Roosevelt in overtime, 86-72, and advance to the Class 4A South region final against Parkdale on Saturday.
If you were to tell anyone at Thursday’s game that Wise would bounce back with authority in latter stages of the fourth quarter, trailing by 10, they’d probably look at you like you were crazy. Everything that could’ve went wrong, went wrong for Wise at the beginning in the second quarter.
The Pumas couldn’t find the bottom of the net until a Terrence Gibbons layup dropped with about 3:30 left in the first half tying the game up 24-24. Thanks to the impressive defense of the Raiders, Wise only scored six points in the second period to Roosevelt’s 14.
“In that second quarter, we started to be selfish,” Pegram said. “That’s not the team that we are, man. We’re a great team when we play together”
After the break, the Pumas started to play like their usual selves, but were still falling victim to momentary defensive lapses. During a 9-3 run to begin the third quarter capped by a jumper from Jaden Faulkner, the Raiders pushed their lead to 37-29. Even when Wise tied it up at 39-39 with its own 9-2 run punctuated by back-to-back 3-pointers from Howell and Speight, Cameron Brown spotted up from the right corner and canned his own transition 3 to regain Roosevelt’s advantage, 42-39.
Wise then brought it to one possession when Darron Barnes converted a putback to make it 46-44 to enter the fourth quarter.
Before the Pumas could blink, they were down 58-48 in the opening minutes of the final frame. Thanks to a quad of 3-pointers from Augustin Okafor, Cameron Brown and Juston Bailey, the Raiders seized the momentum.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Speight said. “We just wanted to settle down, take our time, and make our own run.”
As the game inched closer to the finish, a fire was lit in the Pumas. With less than three minutes to go, trailing 62-54, Wise was finally produced. They locked on both ends, getting key buckets from their senior starters, including Pegram, who battled leg cramps in the second half. A decisive 7-0 run brought Wise back within 62-61. After Bailey made a trio of free throws to make it 65-61, Barnes took over in the closing minute, tying the game up at 66-all with a putback. After misses from both Speight and Okafor, the game headed to overtime
“I mean, that’s, just what we do.” Barnes said. “We’ve been doing that since sophomore year, so this was nothing new for us. We just did what we know to do and took the game by the horns ”
In the extra period, Speight, Howell, Barnes each had a part in the hard fought victory. While holding Roosevelt to only six points in overtime, the senior trio combined for 18 points. Speight, himself, had 10 of those points, each time attacking the rim with intense focus.
When the game was all but over, and the score at 85-62, Barnes and Howell locked arms, watching Speight at the free throw line with smiles on their faces and daping each other up
“That just shows how persistent and strong we are,” Barnes said. ” Unfortunately it took us a while to crack down. But better late than never.”