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On a roll: Wakeland defeats Little Elm to keep streak alive
FRISCO – The second time has been a charm for the Wakeland boys basketball team as of late.
The Wolverines took down The Colony on Jan. 29 after dropping a Jan. 4 contest to the Cougars. Wakeland then followed suit by defeating first-place Little Elm, 67-47, on Friday to move into second place in the District 9-4A standings.
"We played great Tuesday night and avenged a loss against The Colony," said Brent Benningfield, Wakeland head coach. "We tried to do the same thing tonight."
The loss was just the second one against district counterparts for Little Elm and the first in the last six games.
"We're going to start taking every game like a playoff game," said Rusty Segler, Little Elm head coach.
The Lobos looked to be in midseason form during the early going and followed a quick layup from Wakeland junior forward Noah Westerfield by going on a 7-0 run to take a five-point lead. The Wolverines stormed right back with a run of their own though and recaptured the lead on a 3-pointer from senior guard Josh Harris to make it 13-11 with 1:32 remaining in the first quarter.
"[Wakeland] did a great job of executing what they work on every day," Segler said. "We didn't do the same."
Wakeland held a 16-14 advantage heading into the second quarter and lost the lead on Little Elm's opening possession of the frame when senior point guard Devante' Pullum drained a shot from downtown to give his team a 17-16 lead.
That's when the Wolverines began to pull away for good, building a 10-point advantage before the end of the half. The run was fueled by a pair of jumpers from Harris and point guard Sean Watkins.
"We don't have athleticism like [Little Elm] does," Benningfield said. "But our bigs ran the floor well tonight."
Little Elm senior forward Biron Joseph, last season's leading scorer, was held scoreless in the first half but got the Lobos back in the game with a 4-0 run to start the third quarter. Joseph ended the night with 13 points after struggling to find a rhythm for much of the game. The Lobos were led by Pullum, who scored a game-high 17 points to become the only other Little Elm player in double figures.
"We did not take advantage of what [Wakeland] was doing defensively," Segler said.
Wakeland senior Zol Singleton, who finished with a team-high 12 points, extended his team's lead to 12 by scoring six unanswered points midway through the third. Singleton's final bucket of the frame made it 44-32 with 3:50 on the clock.
The Lobos trimmed the deficit to 48-40 entering the final stanza but didn't help their cause at the charity stripe. Little Elm missed 11 free throws in the game and shot just under 55 percent at the line.
"[Wakeland] definitely wanted it more than we did tonight," Segler said.
With Little Elm showing a sense of urgency in the fourth, Wakeland took advantage and built a comfortable lead that would prove too much for the Lobos to overcome.
A Harris dunk with 5:50 remaining in regulation made it 56-43 before Watkins pushed the lead to 20 points minutes later on a transition layup. Harris was one of three Wolverines with 11 points, joining posts Noah Westerfield and Cameron Walker. Watkins added 10 in the game.
The Lobos were able to add several late free throws to trim the deficit to 13 points, giving Wakeland the 67-54 home victory.
"This helps keep us in the [district] mix," Benningfield said. "It's still so tight right now though."
Wakeland improved to 22-5 on the season and 8-3 against district counterparts with the win. The Wolverines couldn’t continue that momentum on Tuesday though and dropped a 54-51 road contest against Liberty.
Little Elm fell to 20-7 on the year and 9-2 in District 9-4A with the loss to Waklenad. However, the Lobos rebounded Tuesday with a 64-47 victory against The Colony.