Strong defensive effort leads Wheaton past Northwest

GERMANTOWN – Two nine-win Montgomery County, Maryland, high school boys basketball teams faced off Friday night when Wheaton visited Northwest.

Thanks to solid shooting and defense, Wheaton maintained a narrow lead throughout most of the contest to earn a 70-60 victory.

“We had a great game plan by playing great defense,” said Wheaton head coach Tyler Simpkiss. “It’s what we stress to the kids: Play great defense, go and get some wins.”

Mike Gilma had a career night for the Knights (10-5) as he was able to drive to the basket with ease, knock down free throws, and play strong defense. He finished with a game-high 25 points after scoring 16 during the second half.

“Ever since we got back from [winter] break, my mindset was to be consistent and help my team as much as I can by scoring because that’s what I do,” Gilma said.

“He knows how to hit shots when it counts,” Simpkiss said. “Every time we need to get it going, he gets us going. He finds a way for us. Just proud of the way he played defensively too.”

Wheaton jumped out to a 16-9 lead late in the first quarter, with Nick Coleman scoring seven points, including a 3-pointer. He then added another basket in the second to finish the half and game with nine points.

With the Knights up 33-21 heading into the second half, the Jaguars (9-4) did their best to keep up by converting their own shots.

However, Wheaton, led by Gilma, held off the home team and never gave up the lead the rest of the evening. Yafel Tedras and Lamar Logan, scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, to help lead the Knights to the convincing victory.

“We really needed this win,” said Gilma. “This team was ranked right above us. Beating Northwest was a statement to the county and for us.”

When asked about the Knights’ future with a few regular-season games remaining, Coleman said he feels very optimistic.

“I know if we keep working hard and keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to have great things in our path,” said Coleman.

Northwest received another top performance from Cortez Whitney, who scored a team-high 15 points despite the loss. Jaguars head coach Chase Rieder called Cortez the team’s MVP so far this season as he can still produce on a high level offensively, even on an off night.

In his first season at Northwest, Rieder said he believes the group will bounce back from the home loss and be ready to make a run in the state playoffs.

“The good thing is we have great players on our team,” Rieder said. “We’re just trying to put it all together and play together, and I think we can do that.”

Photo by Harry Lichtman/The Sports Pulse

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