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'Cats get on track vs. Railroaders

February 13, 2007|by DAN KAUFFMAN

WILLIAMSPORT - If a last-second, 60-57 loss at North Hagerstown on Feb. 2 failed to get the attention of the No. 6 Williamsport boys basketball team, Friday's 50-38 setback to Smithsburg certainly did.

Suddenly, the Wildcats found themselves in danger of falling into a tie for first place with Brunswick in the MVAL Antietam - which is what would have happened had the Railroaders kept Williamsport on its downward spiral Monday night.

It didn't work out that way. Brunswick never had a chance against the fired-up Wildcats.

Will Taylor was too big, too strong and too good in the paint, muscling his way to 26 points as Williamsport jumped all over the Railroaders from the opening tip, taking a stunning 30-7 first-quarter lead on the way to an 81-40 rout that clinched the Antietam title and the top seed in the Maryland Class 1A West region's East subregion.

"I think they were embarrassed by what happened Friday night, not to take anything away from Smithsburg. They played a good game and deserved to win," Wildcats coach Scott Mowbray said. "We came in Saturday, worked on a few things, changed a few things.

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"They were very focused. You could see it in their eyes in warm-ups. The first quarter showed how prepared and ready they were to play."

Zone defenses puzzled Williamsport (14-5, 10-2) in the losses to the Hubs and Leopards, but Chad Bikle's outside shooting helped the Wildcats solve the puzzle against Brunswick (11-8, 8-4). Bikle scored all nine of his points in the opening 4:10 on three 3-pointers, the last one making the score 17-5.

Taylor had 11 points in the first quarter, Sean Dixon and Greg Minnich each had two buckets and Chad Poffenberger's drive and layup capped the period, in which the Wildcats made 12 of 15 shots and outrebounded the Railroaders, 11-3. Brunswick made just 2 of 13 shots in the frame - part of its 14-for-48 struggle overall.

"Chad hit some 3s and loosened the zone a bit, and we got it into Will and rolled from there," Mowbray said.

After leading 42-13 at halftime, Taylor scored 15 points in the third quarter as Williamsport went to him repeatedly to end any remaining suspense. Taylor also finished with six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

"If we play like we can play, that's how it turns out," Taylor said. "I've been in a funk these last two weeks, and I was ready to play tonight. I was focused and relaxed."

Dixon had 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Travis Sluger scored 12 points - 10 in the second half - for the Wildcats, which made 29 of 48 shots and 19 of 35 free throws. Sluger made 8 of 12 from the line.

"There were a lot of things at stake and our guys knew that, and it added to their focus," Mowbray said. "We played more relaxed and more confident, and it showed."

Kyle Foltz scored 10 points - all in the second half - and was the only player in double figures for Brunswick.

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