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Wildcats make most of foul shots, edge 'Roaders in OT

December 19, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT - Technically, they're called free throws.

But there's certainly a great deal of work and a critical need to execute that makes the attempts from the charity stripe so important.

The Williamsport boys basketball team showed just how vital a consistent foul-shooting performance can be, as the Wildcats hit 16 of 17 attempts in overtime to pull away and defeat Brunswick 69-61 to open MVAL Antietam play.

The Wildcats finished 27 of 35 from the foul line (77 percent) and hit the last 12 of the game. In the last three games, they have attempted 106 foul shots.

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"Something we've always concentrated on and stressed is the need to go to the line and hit free throws," said Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray. "As a team the last few years we've struggled with it. And we weren't very strong in our first couple games this year. But the last couple of games, we have really improved. You can see it in their eyes that they go to the line expecting to make it each time."

Senior forward Greg Minnich used his 6-foot-4 frame to wrestle his way to 12 rebounds - five on the offensive end. He also hit seven baskets and went 13-for-15 from the foul line for a season-high 27 points.

Sean Dixon, also a 6-4 senior forward, also proved to be effective in the post and finished with 14 points and six rebounds.

"(Minnich) was just unbelievable going after the offensive boards and either getting the putbacks or getting to the line," Mowbray said. "Him and Sean just kept working and they did an exceptional job on the inside."

Williamsport (4-0, 1-0) lived up to the clutch name it established already this year as it held Brunswick (1-2, 0-1) scoreless over the last 2:15 and scored the last five points of regulation to force overtime.

Trailing 49-44, Minnich hit a free throw, Dixon banked in an 8-footer from the right wing and reserve Colby McCauley hit a 17-foot jumper from the right baseline to tie the game at 49.

Each team had two opportunities for the go-ahead score in the final minute, but each came up empty. Brunswick had three turnovers in its last five possessions over the final 90 seconds.

"Obviously, any turnover at any time will cost you," said Brunswick coach Dan McLane. "But we also missed the front end of a 1-and-1, so that's two (points) that we could have had and didn't."

Williamsport sustained its momentum and scored 12 of the first 14 points of overtime to take a 61-51 lead with 1:30 left. The Railroaders answered with an 8-1 spurt to cut the deficit to 63-61 with 26 seconds left, but were forced to foul and the Wildcats hit six consecutive foul shots to seal it.

Brunswick's 3-point threat and go-to scorer Andrew Simpson fouled out in the first minute of overtime after scoring 20 points. Simpson hit three 3s in the third quarter that helped Brunswick regain control after halftime and take a 41-37 lead into the fourth quarter.

"Without (Simpson) in there, we were able to focus on some of their other scorers," Mowbray said. "We looked to (Justin) Stone and (Kyle) Foltz, who can both shoot the ball, and worked on containing them."

Williamsport trailed 18-8 early in the second quarter before ending the half on a 14-3 run. The Wildcats led until a Simpson 3 knotted the game at 28 with 5:25 left in the third quarter. Brunswick took a 30-28 lead on a basket by Stone and remained in front until Williamsport tied it at the end of regulation.

Austin Darling had 13 points and Stone added 10 for the Railroaders.

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