UPPER MARLBORO — Led by its trio of seniors, Mike Speight, Brent Pegram and Brandon Howell, the Wise Pumas were able to pull off a well-earned victory on Friday night, 48-45, in what has become one of the fiercest rivalries in Prince George’s County.
In a tale of two halves, Eleanor Roosevelt (1-3) held a 10-9 advantage and kept Speight in check when they tasked sophomore Juston Bailey on the heavily recruited shooting guard. Bailey was able to keep Speight uncomfortable thanks to his length.
Late in the second quarter, Speight had a transition opportunity to close the gap to four points, but Long stripped the ball and drew a foul from Speight during a scramble for the ball. Long’s defensive effort held Speight to four points at the half. Even the best of those two field goals, a tough step-back jumper from the corner, were contested.
“I knew they were going to come out playing me tight with whoever was checking me in a no help situation,” Speight, the four-year varsity player, said. “My coaches told me to just keep moving without the ball and it will find me and that’s what I tried to do all game.”
The half was a sluggish affair as both teams were plagued by turnovers, subpar shooting and defense. Eleanor Roosevelt led 26-20 after 16 minutes. No player had more than five points at the end of the first half.
The highlight of the first half was Speight scoring his 1,000th career point.
“It’s always an honor to get something like that accomplished for yourself,” Wise coach Robert Garner said. “We’re a team, and everyone has helped Mike Speight to achieve those individual goals for himself. [Speight] is the lone guy from the state championship from 2014 when he was a freshman. What we want more is for him to go out on top.”
Although he only had two points through the first two quarters, Howell, a transfer from Theodore Roosevelt, came out of the second half and connected on two 3-pointers to ignite an 11-2 run, which gave Wise a 33-25 lead, the largest margin (eight) for the game.
Along with the energizing run, tempers flared when Brent Pegram, an emotional leader for Wise, exchanged words with Roosevelt guard Barly Kanu after wrestling away a jump-ball.
Pegram pounced on loose balls and playing hard nosed defense down the stretch.
“It’s my senior year and I just want to go out on top,” he said. “My teammates, they believe in me. They look at me as the leader, so I want to be able to be there for them because I know they will be there.”
Garner was elated at Pegram’s effort in crunch time.
“One thing I love about this kid is he wants to be in that position and so all the guys feed off of his energy,” he said.
Jaden Faulkner converted a pivotal three-point-play, swiped a steal, and nearly converted another three-point-play to bring the Raiders to within one point, 46-45, with less than two minutes to go.
Unfortunately, Roosevelt missed its last three shots, including a potential wide-open, game-tying 3-pointer from the corner. Elation ensued for Wise as the sting of letting another win slip away became reality for Eleanor Roosevelt.
Although it’s only three games in the season, Gardner said the Pumas aren’t “playing (their) best basketball right now.”
Wise will face another stiff test on Tuesday, clashing with MSA ranked Bowie. Eleanor Roosevelt, on the other hand, will look to bounce back from their 1-3 start when they play High Point on Tuesday.