The Wildcats (18-8) led by double digits for most of the second half, but the Hornets (17-11) didn’t make it easy. Each shot was contested and Roswell kept the pressure high, forcing several turnovers.
But in the end, the Wildcats made the right shots and came through on the free-throw line.
Wheeler was 10-for-15 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, including a 5-for-6 performance by Jaylen Brown.
Wheeler took a 24-15 lead in the first quarter and was up 32-28 at the half.
Daniel Giddens, who was scoreless in the first half, propelled Wheeler in the third quarter with eight points. He finished the game with 13.
Tim Sanders’ 3-pointer at the end of the third made it 52-38.
Roswell opened the fourth with a three-point play by Tyrone Sam. Two possessions later, a 3-pointer by Mechane Slade made it 57-44 before Sean Brennan was fouled behind the arc. Brennan was good on each of his three free throws and Roswell was back in the game as Anthony Hudson made a pair of shots to make it 59-51.
Matt Beneduci got a loud cheer from the home crowd when his 3-pointer — his seventh of the night — made it 61-54, but Roswell got no closer.
The Hornets began fouling and Wheeler pulled away.
Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb said it was good to see his team do some of the little things right when it counted.
“This is good for the kids,” he said. “We are a team that is playing better now, and that’s a good thing.”
Lipscomb said the team struggled with what he called “sophomore mistakes” earlier in the season, but that wasn’t the case Saturday.
“I think they are finally buying in,” he said. “I’m proud of the effort.”
Brown led Wheeler with 17 points, and Avery Patterson added 13. Tevin Steede and Sanders each scored 10 points.
Lipscomb praised the performance of Roswell and its coaching staff.
“They don’t have anything to hang their heads about,” he said. “They competed the entire time.”
Beneduci led Roswell with 23 points, but no other Hornet was in double figures.
Wheeler will host Dacula, the No. 4 seed of Region 5AAAAAA, in a first-round state playoff game Wednesday.