Wilde Lake Basketball Nets Historic Season

Wilde Lake Varsity Boys Basketball huddles up during their game against Oakland Mills. The Cats clinched a 56‐ 54 win against the Scorpions. (Photo by Blaiz Blackston)

On March 2nd in the second playoff game of the season the Lake faced off against one of their toughest opponents of the year, Long Reach. With two minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter, junior small forward Kain Corkeron scored three points to put Wilde Lake up 68-65. In retaliation, Long Reach scored another three pointer, tying the game. In the final minute, junior guard Ethan Jackson sunk a game clinching three, leading Wilde Lake to the win and crowning them regional champions. 

In the game prior, Wilde Lake took the title of county champions with a ten-point lead against Glenelg, a title last held by the Cats in 1978. 

Wilde Lake was eliminated from the playoffs in their third playoff game, where they faced  Aberdeen High School in a close 76-72 loss. 

Last year, the boys’ varsity team finished their season 9-8. The 2021-22 season ended in a close game against Long Reach in the first round of playoffs. After the loss, the school buzzed about questionable officiating and injured players hampering the team’s success.  

This year, the Cats were looking to bounce back, and they did, finishing the season 21-4. 

However, this team’s success didn’t happen by chance. Power forward junior Xavier Gilliam says the coaches have been working the players harder than ever. 

“Practices were very tough,” said Kain Corkeron. “All our plays this year were new, and we would even make plays specifically for the team we were playing against.” Coach McMillian and Coach Wingfield would tailor plays for teams using the players’ strengths, according to Kain. 

“We had a great coaching staff,” said Coach Wingfield. “They held all the kids accountable and pushed them for greatness.”

Xavier Gilliam said that part of the team’s success was due to the players trusting the coaches.

“Putting trust in [the coaches] to lead us to victory, they really brought the team together because they all have a drive to win,” said Xavier. “They don’t want to coach a losing team.” 

Because of their success this year, there has gradually been more interest in the team from the school as a whole. Some of their games were sold out, such as their first home game, along with four others, including all their playoff games. 

Part of this popularity was because the team had three returning all-county players: Xavier Gilliam, Nate Hiteshew, and Kain Corkeron, which attracted big crowds, says Coach Wingfield. 

Although there has been much success for the team, they have had their share of struggles throughout the season. “Everyone has to be mentally prepared and have to understand what to do because if they don’t, then it can cost us the game,” said Xavier. 

In their first game facing Long Reach for the season, Wilde Lake looked to get back at them for the loss that eliminated the Lake from the playoffs last year, creating one of the most anticipated games of the year for Wilde Lake. 

“All of us knew what we needed to win,” said Elijah Dean, a junior guard on varsity. 

The high-stakes game against Oakland Mills was around the corner. With strong defensive plays, however, Wilde Lake kept the game under control. During the second half, things started to heat up. The game went back and forth until Wilde Lake sophomore Deandre Hoskins made a layup that gave the team a two-point lead with three seconds left on the clock.

It was games like this and their county playoffs where Wilde Lake proved that they were capable of rewriting their history from last year’s season that fell short. 

Wilde Lake continued their playoff run when they played River Hill at home. The Lake defended their home and took care of business with a 83-63 point win. 

Fresh off of the 20-point win at River Hill, the team prepared for their second game against Long Reach, determined to take the title of regional champions. From tip-off, this was anyone’s game until Wilde Lake was down by ten at the beginning of the third quarter.

They stormed back against the Lightning, putting them up in the fourth quarter 70-67 with five seconds left. Off the inbound, however, Long Reach hit a buzzer-beater that forced overtime. Wilde Lake wasn’t going to be sent home by Long Reach two years in a row, and they scored two back-to-back three-pointers during overtime. 

These shots helped the Wildcats win the game and snag the regional championship title. “Winning the regional championship was the best,” said Xavier.

With this title, Wilde Lake rose to the top of the county as they went on a tear with a 12-game win streak. 

In state quarterfinals, Wilde Lake faced Aberdeen at home in what was set to be a thriller. Wilde Lake jumped out to an early lead and was never looking back until Aberdeen fought back hard and was able to take the lead late in the 3rd.

The game was still going back and forth until the one minute mark when Dylan Gooden made a layup setting the score 72-76. Wilde Lake was able to get the ball back with 18 seconds left and a chance to pull off a miracle. Then Wilde Lake was called for a double dribble and Aberdeen got the ball back and dribbled out the clock, ending Wilde Lake’s historic run. 

“This year, we had some really good players who were able to play together and wanted to be coached,” said Coach Wingfield.  

“It was super fun. The team environment was great,” said Xavier.