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Wildcats' comeback Taylor-made

February 04, 2006|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT -

Many of his teammates are likely to concur with junior Will Taylor, who called it "the best win of my life" after Williamsport rallied to claim a 55-53 win over No. 7 North Hagerstown on Friday night, leaving the Wildcats and Hubs tied for the MVAL Antietam lead.

Tim Alexander, after a hand-check foul by North's Jarell Rodriguez, sank a pair of free throws with 7 seconds remaining to cap a Williamsport comeback from down 36-24 with 3 minutes remaining in the third period.

When North (11-5, 8-1) was unable to get a shot off as time expired, Williamsport (10-5, 8-1) fans went into a frenzy - something that might not have seemed possible when the Hubs were rolling in the middle two periods behind Dee Mency.

"We wanted to keep this game in the high 40s, maybe into the 50s," Wildcats coach Scott Mowbray said.

North coach Tim McNamee knew that's what the Wildcats would prefer to do, but he didn't count on his team losing control of a lead for the second straight game.

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"We struggled down the stretch," said McNamee. "It was a big game and a big win for (Williamsport)."

Both coaches agreed the 'X' factor was Taylor, a 6-foot-4 center who scored 10 of his team-high 14 points late and became a dominant factor for the Wildcats during the comeback.

"I think (Taylor) single-handedly beat us," said McNamee.

"(Will) had the scoring, the boards and a couple of blocks and he was a huge factor," said Mowbray.

Mency drilled three 3-pointers and a deuce to give North the 36-24 margin, hitting both of his treys from the left wing.

In the last three minutes of the third period, Taylor fueled the Williamsport uprising with six points and six rebounds as the Wildcats got within eight points at the end of the quarter.

Mency was the main reason the Hubs were leading, scoring 21 of his game-high 24 points, including five of his six 3-pointers, in the second and third quarters.

Williamsport whittled away at North's lead in the final period and got within two, 51-49, when Chad Bikle drained a 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:13 to go.

The Hubs missed seven straight shots down the stretch and Williamsport finally knotted the score 51-51 when Alexander hit two free throws with 2:15 left.

In a flurry of action, Taylor muscled in a putback with 56 seconds left to give the Wildcats a two-point lead until the Hubs' Tyrell Wilson drove the lane for a game-tying deuce with 22 seconds left.

Taylor, who plays basketball during the offseason with many of North's players, knew he had a job to do.

"(Coach) wanted me to get in there and crash the boards," said Taylor. "It helps to have mental intensity in practice."

Phillip Jordan added 11 points and Ryan Lee had 10 for Williamsport, which went 16-for-21 at the free throw line.

"(Ryan) had an excellent game, especially in the first half," said Mowbray. "And Phillip had the assignment on Mency and he did a good job of keeping him in a halfcourt game."

It was the second straight loss in which North blew a lead in the fourth quarter, having squandered a 13-point lead in a one-point loss at Urbana on Wednesday.

"We just didn't get a lot of shots to go down. ... I thought for the most part our shot selection was pretty good," said McNamee, who dismissed being tired as an excuse for the loss.

Tyrone Wheeler was the only other Hub in double figures with 10 and he also had six rebounds. The Hubs were 10-for-20 from behind the arc, making two more 3s than 2s.

Taylor had 11 rebounds for Williamsport as the Wildcats held a 40-26 advantage.

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