The senior, who entered Friday’s contest against Chesapeake averaging just seven points per game for the Wildcats, has gym for his first and second periods of the day. So for more than an hour early in his day, Mack fired jump shots until he knew he was comfortable.
That extra shooting paid dividends for Arundel (11-1, 7-0 Anne Arundel), which got 21 points from the diminutive guard and double-digit performances from two other players in an 81-60 home rout of the Cougars.
“It’s great, and it’s good that we know that, so every night, if you know that it’s not your night, you know that someone else will have a big night,” said senior Austin Carroll, who was held to a season-low six points against the Cougars but is Arundel’s leading scorer. “When everyone’s clicking and we have everyone on the floor, it’s very hard to guard us.”
Despite the lopsided final score, Chesapeake actually led for much of the first quarter, forcing Arundel to keep pace with a flurry of threes from Mack. The Wildcats grew their lead to 10 by halftime and ballooned it to 27 by the end of a third quarter in which they outscored the Cougars, 29-12.
Joining Mack in double figures was senior guard Aaron Lewis-Cenales, who had 18 and forward Markus Oliphant, who finished with 15. Nine of Oliphant’s points came in the second quarter, when the forward scored four straight baskets punctuated with a behind-the-back assist to Lewis-Cenales to ignite the run that put Arundel up for good.
“I just felt comfortable. [Arundel Coach Jeff Starr], he talked to me on the bench and said I needed to get it together and I just did. It just clicked in my head and I went off from there,” Lewis-Cenales said. “He knows I’m a slasher, and I needed to attack the basket more often.”
Chesapeake (7-5, 5-3) received more than half of its offense from guard Aaron Terry, who scored 32 points, 12 of which came at the free throw line. The Wildcats managed to control Terry, if not stop him, by limiting his ability to drive in the second half. Terry connected on just four field goals in the second half, all of which came in the fourth quarter. Center Nate Windom was the only other Chesapeake player in double figures with 13 points.
The loss marked a disappointing end to a key three-game stretch in which the Cougars — who entered the week undefeated in Anne Arundel County play — dropped games against perennial county powers Meade and Old Mill before Friday’s loss at Arundel. Chesapeake Coach Marlon Bailey had dubbed the stretch “buzzsaw week,” and was less than pleased by how his team closed it out.
“The Meade game is a game I feel we could have pulled out. The Old Mill game is another game I feel we could have pulled out,” Bailey said. “This game right here, we played tough, but I feel we gave up a little bit, which is not cool for me.”