WESLEY CHAPEL — On a night when Wesley Chapel honored one of its all-time greats, Marcus Hayne came through with an impressive performance of his own.
For three quarters Friday, the Wildcats struggled to break through against neighborhood rival Wiregrass Ranch. Early in the fourth, they faced a six-point deficit.
Then longtime coach Doug Greseth called a timeout and told his players to not panic and focus on the task at hand.
Hayne took those words to heart and helped start a 15-5 run with four of his game-high 20 points in the final minutes to lead Wesley Chapel to their third straight win over the Bulls, 57-53.
“Coach sat us down and told us what we needed to do to win,” said the 6-foot-7 Hayne, who added 11 rebounds. “All we had to do was go out there, execute … and put it all out there on the court. And we did it.”
Not much went right for Wesley Chapel (20-5) early as the Bulls jumped to 15-8 lead.
The Wildcats responded with a 10-2 run midway through the second quarter, to nab their first lead. But it was short-lived as DJ Ward (12 points) and Anthony Castillo (six) hit two long 3-pointers to give Wiregrass (11-14) a three-point halftime advantage.
During the intermission, former Wesley Chapel quarterback and current Oakland Raiders receiver Greg Jenkins had his No. 2 football jersey retired by the school in a special ceremony. Among those with Jenkins and his family on the court was former Wesley Chapel coach John Castelamare, who now heads the program at Academy at the Lakes.
In the third, the teams exchanged leads seven times before a layup by Alex Walker and another 3-pointer from Ward in the waning seconds helped boost Wiregrass to a five-point lead going into the fourth.
But the Wildcats refused to lay down. After the timeout, they stormed back to tie it at 50 on a layup from Brian Rodriguez (10 points) with 3:36 left. A tip-in by Hayne two minutes later gave them the lead for good.
“Coach told us what we needed to do to win,” Hayne said. “And we went out here and did it.”