BETHESDA – Blake and Walt Whitman boys basketball teams have had strong seasons with 12-5 records each before facing off Friday night.
The competitive match stayed closed until the Vikings pulled away late for the 56-51 victory over Blake.
The result capped off a busy week for Whitman, who lost at Sherwood on Monday and earned a victory against Wootton Wednesday night.
“For us to come through 2-1 for this week, we feel pretty good about it,” said Vikings head coach Chris Lun. “I was really proud of how well our guys stuck together in crunch time when we hit some big shots.”
It was the 11th meeting between the two rivals, with Lun at the helm for Whitman, earning six victories against Blake in that span.
Whitman’s leading scorer Preston Kuhn finished with 20 points in the win.
“We came together as a team,” said Kuhn. “We have great leadership. It was good to get back in the win column on Wednesday against Wootton. That was a confidence game. It’s good to win two in a row.”
In addition, his teammate Thomas Farrell also stepped up with 15 points, including four 3-pointers.
“It was a great, hard-fought team win,” said Farrell. “We had been on a losing streak the week before. We came in confident. We played together. We were aggressive on defense.”
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Womack scored 12 points in the loss for the Bengals, while Junior Tutuwan scored 11 points.
The game began sloppy offensively for both teams, as Blake led 3-0 with over four minutes left in the opening quarter. However, the pace eventually picked up, with the Bengals continuing to lead — with a four-point advantage — at the end of the first.
The second quarter involved more solid shooting, with Kuhn ending the first half with 10 points.
“The energy really picked up,” said Kuhn. “We have a great fanbase here. Great bench, bench energy is always hot with our team. There were still players on the court to give it their all.”
One of the highlights of the second quarter was Whitman senior Hunter Hausman making a block on an attempted layup from Blake as the Vikings led 23-22 at halftime.
Both teams remained close in the third quarter, as Farrell made three shots from 3-point range. Kuhn also stepped up at the end of the quarter by nailing a triple at the buzzer, putting Whitman up 39-38.
“Teams that play us know that we rely on our guards,” said Lun. “We put a lot of faith in our guards tonight.”
However, the momentum shifted toward the Vikings midway through the fourth. Whitman extended its lead by seven and continued to march forward for their 13th win of the season.
“Good effort,” said Blake head coach Desminn Wade. “But we just made mistakes on the back end in the fourth quarter that cost us the game.”
With his team’s positive results, Kuhn said he feels very confident about Whitman’s chances of making a deep postseason run this year.
“You don’t want to play us,” said Kuhn. “We’re a great team; we play the right way, we move the ball, we hit our shots, we give it our all.”