'Cats stay poised down the stretch

December 15, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport boys basketball coach Scott Mowbray wasn't exactly pleased with his team's performance Friday night against North Hagerstown.

One thing he cannot deny is the Wildcats' poise down the stretch.

For the second straight game, Williamsport dismissed the late-game tension and remained cool and collected in the final minutes, posting a 67-64 win against the Hubs.

"We are a predominantly senior team, so many of these guys have been in some big games over the last few years," said Mowbray. "They've been in these situations and they seem to find a way come through."

Williamsport (3-0) made 8 of 11 foul shots down the stretch and 26 of 35 for the game - the second straight game with at least 35 free-throw attempts. But the Wildcats trailed twice in the fourth quarter after leading by as many as 10 in the third.


"Number one, I was very disappointed with our lack of execution on the defensive end and blocking out on the rebound," Mowbray said. "And I was disappointed with our decision making and shot selection. We were very fortunate to survive."

North (0-2) led 54-53 with 4:34 left in the game and forged four ties over the last three minutes. The Hubs trailed 67-64 with 7.9 seconds left and had the ball for another chance to tie the game, but Antoine Malone's 3-pointer from the right wing rimmed out. The Hubs got the offensive rebound, but Allen Sandberg was called for traveling as he backed out beyond the arc for a second chance to tie. Williamsport inbounded the ball as time expired.

"We were looking to either Sandberg, Antoine or (Brent Bell)," said North first-year coach Kevin Hartman. "We were trying to catch them off guard a little bit, set a back screen and get it to the open man. We got two good looks, even though (Sandberg) got called for traveling."

Williamsport scored the first six points of the game, but the lead changed hands eight times in the first 10 minutes of action. Wildcats forward Greg Minnich picked up three fouls in the first quarter and played just five minutes in the first half, but reserves Travis Sluger and Michael Warrenfeltz stepped in and combined for six points and six rebounds in the second quarter.

"Travis and Michael have given us excellent play off the bench the last two games," Mowbray said. "The guys that have been our go-to-guys haven't been doing so well, and the guys on the bench have stepped up."

The Wildcats led 33-24 at halftime and upped the lead to 45-35 with 1:37 left in the third quarter, leading Hartman to call a timeout. The Hubs responded with a 14-4 run to knot the game at 49-49 with 5:55 left in the game.

Malone helped fuel the comeback with 10 points and 12 rebounds in the second half - he finished with 16 points, 14 boards and six steals - and junior Brent Bell came off the bench and scored seven points with three offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter. Bell finished with 13 points, while Anthony Lee had 16 points and five steals.

Sean Dixon scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the second half and finished with six rebounds for the Wildcats. Eric Wilfong had 11 points, A.J. Jamison added 10 and Warrenfeltz chipped in with nine.

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