The fact that Williamsport coach Kevin Murphy, now in his 20th year coaching at the school, has won more than 250 games and is only now celebrating his first MVAL championship is a testament to how competitive the league is every year.
"It's a tough league, many years from top to bottom," Murphy said. "We've been in the hunt other years. It's a nice win. It's nice to win it on the road."
The Wildcats rode on the back of center Andy Artz, who finished with 19 points and six rebounds. After North (16-5, 13-4) took an early 8-4 lead, it was Artz who started and ended a run that gave Williamsport a 19-10 lead after one. Artz scored on a jumper in the paint to begin the string, then hit a 3-pointer, his second of the period, just before the buzzer to cap the 15-2 run.
"Everybody was ready coming in here tonight, every one of us," Artz said. "We wanted to come out here and play hard and head toward the playoffs on a good note."
The Hubs struggled from the field in the first half, hitting just 7 of 18 shots as Williamsport took a 30-15 advantage into the intermission. North added foul trouble to its cold shooting to begin the third and the Wildcats took advantage. They extended their lead to 41-22 on a layup from Artz after Richie Pantophlet and Cornell Keyes each picked up their fourth fouls for the Hubs.
But the Wildcats could not bury North. A 10-1 run late in the third quarter cut the margin to 10 points, and another 10-1 string in the fourth pulled North to within four, 54-50. Devin Carey's three-point play capped the second run with 2:45 to play.
Williamsport began to run out the clock, forcing the Hubs to foul in order to regain possession. But the Wildcats made 13 of 14 free throws in the final two minutes to seal the win.
"They hit some real clutch shots from the line. If they don't hit them we're in pretty good shape," said North coach Tim McNamee. "But we worked really hard to get back in this one, and that's going to help us."
Rusty Tritsch and Steve Ritchie each had 11 points and Josh Trumpower had 10 off the bench for Williamsport.
Josh Fitchett led North with 15 points. Carey added 14, Keyes had 13 and Travis Stoner had 10.