DERWOOD –With one week remaining in the Montgomery County Road Summer League regular season, many local high school squads are looking to continue improving while others look to stay and play for a playoff spot.
One of those teams trying to clinch a playoff spot is Walt Whitman High School.
On July 15, the Vikings (4-4) faced Quince Orchard High School and trailed for most of the contest. However, Whitman fought their way back toward the end, earning a tense 48-46 win over the Cougars, putting themselves one step closer to a playoff berth.
“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to play in the playoffs,” said Whitman Summer League Head Coach Marty Lewis. “We tell them we want to get as many games as we can get, so we tell them every day counts; every minute counts. We’re trying to get extra games here to get better for the regular season.”
QO (1-7) got off to a hot start by jumping out to a 20-9 lead in the middle of the first half, as they attempted to play spoiler. The Cougars sat comfortably at 24-18 at halftime, as junior Andy Wexler led the way with 11 total points in the half on some key layups, jump shots and free throws.
Wexler added 11 more points in the second half to finish with an impressive total of 22 points. For his first summer league appearance this season, the QO coaches were excited by his performance.
“He’s had tendonitis in his knee,” said Quince Orchard Head Coach Paul Foringer. “And the doctor wouldn’t let him play until June, so this was his first day with us.”
However, the Vikings finally came alive in the second half, thanks to Michael Bass and Jack Goldman making some key shots.
“I think we can always do better,” said Bass. “I know I missed a lot of layups, so that’s something I can easily improve on once I get back together; everything’s going to click, as well as getting the shot going a little bit.”
“I played well,” said Goldman. “I had a lot of points in transition. My teammates were finding me on kick outs and stuff like that.”
With the score tied at 43-43, Whitman guard Josh Weinberg drove to the basket surrounded by defenders and converted the contested layup while being fouled. His shot turned into a 3-point play that put his team up late and for good.
“He’s been big for us,” said Lewis. “He’s going to have to be a senior leader for us this year. He’s a kid that I think is coming on to us this summer. He’s gotten better progressively over the summer, and we’re looking for big things from him during the regular season.”
With the incredible comeback victory, Bass led the way for the Vikings with 14 total points, while Goldman dropped 11 points and Weinberg put up 10 points.
“It was a really close battle the whole game,” said Bass. “But we played really well as a team, and we were able to pick it up a little bit in the second half and give just what we needed to finish up the game with the dub.”
“I think it shows a lot of character, how we were able to put it back together in the second half,” said Goldman. “And we kind of came out strong with the press, kind of got embattled, and then we slowly crept our way back into it, and just got over the top.”
Last season, Jason Lewis was arguably Whitman’s best player. Since he graduated this past June, other students will need to step up to fill in his spot for this upcoming season. Players will be evaluated all summer by the whole coaching staff and Head Coach Chris Lun to see who is ready to carry the load.
“We’ve got other guys,” said Marty Lewis. “Jason did a great thing for us last year and gave us 17 points a game as the team’s leading scorer.”
In the meantime, the Vikings can make the playoffs with a win against Watkins Mill High School on July 17.
“The summer league’s been really fun,” said Bass. “It’s a great way to get active during the summer and play and be with friends, getting team chemistry great. Playoffs, we started going 1-4, so we were in a little bit of a slump, but now we’ve really picked it up, and we’re speeding up.”