That was the case right out of the gate as Wheeler won big over Centennial to claim the 6-AAAAA region title in metro Atlanta on Saturday night at Alpharetta High School with 76-56 win.
N.C. State bound big man Richard Howell scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win and was a big reason why the Wildcats played so well for 32 minutes. His presence in the paint limited Centennial's success in the paint from tip to finish. Howell was one of four Wheeler players in double figures.
Howell's future teammate Lorenzo Brown scored 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out four assists in the defeat.
The capacity crowd of 2,700 people saw Wheeler play aggressive on the defensive end of the floor.
"We've been talking about defense all season long but we just haven't applied it sometimes this year," said Howell. "But tonight we finally stepped up. Everyone was in the right places and took charges and everything. We played terrific defense tonight. Now we just can't back track. We have to keep stepping up our intensity on defense because it opened it up for our transition."
Howell and his teammates knew Brown would be a tough match-up. Earlier in the season Brown had great success at Wheeler's gym and looked like the best player in Georgia not named Derrick Favors. Howell said Wheeler knew Brown would be ready but wanted to force him to play most of his game on the perimeter.
"We wanted to make Lorenzo try to find a jump shot," Howell said. "I think we did the best we could really do. He had a good game but we had a good game as a whole."
Howell owned his match-up against Centennial's frontline, showing off his face up skills, his natural power in the post and his passing skills from the high block to teammate Ari Stewart. The Wake Forest bound forward was great in the victory, scoring 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Junior guard Phil Taylor scored a team high 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds all the while recording four assists. Taylor's two quick three pointers in the first quarter gave Wheeler a 13-0 lead to start the game and the Wildcats never looked back.