WILLIAMSPORT — Scott Mowbray knew his 2010-11 Williamsport boys basketball team could be something special as far back as last July’s summer league.
“I knew if the pieces fit the puzzle, we had the making (of a good team),” said Mowbray.
With the pieces firmly in place, Williamsport stormed to the Maryland Class 1A West region title Saturday afternoon and stands two steps away from its first Maryland state championship since 1948. The Wildcats take on Pocomoke in the 1A semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. at the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center.
A victory would earn Williamsport a spot in Saturday’s championship game against either Dunbar or Owings Mills.
“We’ve haven’t been to the state since 2000, so this really means a lot,” said senior Connor Arnone. “The first day of the season, Coach said anything short of this would be underachieving. We know our goals. We just don’t want any distractions. We’re there to capture the moment, there to win.”
“We thought we would be good at guard, good in the post, be a good shooting team, and we always take pride in our defense,” said Mowbray. “The question was how we’d rebound. There have been good games and bad, and when we do good, we are a very good team.”
Williamsport lost two of its last three regular-season games and persevered through some personnel issues, including the loss of junior Tyler Wise to a hand injury.
“For a while, it seemed like we were in a funk,” said senior Brandon McCauley. “I don’t know why. There was no reason ... we didn’t focus. But we know we’re back out there playing Wildcat basketball.”
That means running the floor in transition off a devastating defense that will trap from various angles to create turnover opportunities.
“We’re working on defensive pressure this week,” said senior Xavier Green.
Stephen Christy, Williamsport’s top scorer at 17.5 per game, isn’t eager to see the season end.
“I don’t want (Friday) to be my last game,” said Christy. “We want to bring back a championship and we can do that by working hard as a team. I’m not worried about individual points. I just want to do it as a team.”
Williamsport (22-3) reached the state semifinals by virtue of a thrilling 42-39 victory over Southern Garrett in the West region final, while Pocomoke (18-5) needed overtime to beat Washington 71-63 and win the East region.
Pocomoke’s Shawn Johnson scored 25 points in Athe win. The 6-foot-1 junior leads the Warriors in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game. He’s followed by 6-4 junior center David Williams (12.0) and 6-0 junior Andre Dennis (11.6).
“I think we match up well with them,” said Mowbray, who got to see Pocomoke in action Friday. “They like to get in a track meet and keep it uptempo.”