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Wildcats smoke Pocomoke, head to first state final in 14 years

March 11, 2011|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com
  • Williamsport's Brandon McCauley (3) challenges a pair of Pocomoke defenders on a move to the basket during the Wildcats' 67-48 victory in the Maryland Class 1A state semifinals on Friday at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Leaving the University of Maryland on Friday night, the Williamsport basketball team had a “To Do” list.

Eat, get sleep and stay hydrated.

It’s going to be a quick turnaround for the Wildcats after their 67-48 victory over Pocomoke in the Maryland Class 1A state semifinals. Williamsport will attack the taxing task of playing a second game in 20 hours today at 1 p.m. when it faces one of the state’s best-ever programs in Dunbar.

“We’re going to play probably what is Maryland’s most storied team in public schools ever,” said Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray. “We’re proud of the fact we are playing this game and playing for our school’s first championship in 63 years.”

Williamsport won the Class D title in 1948. Its last appearance in a championship game was 1996, a loss to Pocomoke.

They’ll try to bring a boys title back to Washington County for the first time since South Hagerstown’s 1974 championship.

The Wildcats (23-3) reached today’s final with authority, leading wire-to-wire.

Williamsport’s explosiveness may have caught Pocomoke coach Derrick Fooks by surprise, especially if he gauged the Wildcats by their West region final victory over Southern Garrett.

“After what I saw of them last Saturday, I was very surprised at their quickness and how they ran in transition,” said Fooks.

The Wildcats showed those abilities from the opening tip, grabbing a 9-0 lead. Stephen Christy started by hitting a 3, followed by a basket by Brandon McCauley, 3 of 4 foul shots by Tyler Wise and a Connor Arnone free throw — all in the first 2:30 of the game.

“Any team like (Pocomoke) is dangerous so we wanted to come out and get a lead,” said Arnone. “It’s a huge sigh of relief when you’re nervous to get a lead like that.”

McCauley continued the fast start in what became his best game of the year.

He hit two more buckets to move the Wildcats to a 16-7 lead by the end of the first period and hit a 3-pointer to open the second quarter.

“For once, I felt it in warmups,” said McCauley.

It was a reward for some diligence.

“He’s been spending extra time in the gym,” Mowbray said.

Williamsport led 27-20 at halftime and moved out to a 30-20 advantage as Arnone opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer. But Pocomoke erased most of the 10-point deficit with an 8-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Drequan Savage.

Wise answered underneath in transition and McCauley hit consecutive 3s to put the Wildcats back in charge with a 38-30 lead.

The lead grew to 42-30 with 3:08 left in the third quarter on buckets by Wise and McCauley. In the fourth quarter, it reached the 20-point mark with 1:48 remaining on a Wise putback.

“We played with tremendous intensity, handled their trapping defense and rebounded very well,” said Mowbray. “We’re not a great zone team, but when we went to a zone in the second half because of foul trouble, they still had problems.”

Pocomoke, which shot 21 percent on 14 of 65 from the floor, had trouble moving the ball as it collected only two assists. In comparison, Williamsport recorded assists on 19 of its 25 buckets, including five each from McCauley, Green and Arnone.

Andre Dennis led Pocomoke with 21 points.

“You can’t get down to a team like that and come back,” Fooks said. “They are very disciplined. I thought we took their best shot in the first half, but I was wrong. They just kept on going.”

Arnone had three personal fouls before halftime and Green and Wise were saddled with four each in the third quarter, forcing Mowbray to turn to Ryan Butts and Alex Aleshire off the bench. The pair came though with flying colors.

“They won’t get numbers in the boxscore, but they came out and played very, very hard,” said Mowbray.

McCauley’s season-high 24-point effort came off a 10 of 17 shooting effort. Arnone and Wise added 12 points each, while Christy scored eight points and 13 rebounds, often starting the Wildcats in transition.

“I’m just out there to get points, rebounds or whatever to get us a win as a team,” said Christy.

Williamsport 67, Pocomoke 48
POCOMOKE (18-5)
E. Bishop 1-11 2-2 4, Melendez 1-7 2-2 4, Dennis 6-9 9-11 21, Johnson 2-13 0-0 5, Williams 1-11 2-2 4, Savage 2-8 2-2 8, B. Bishop 1-1 0-0 2, Pritchett 0-3 0-0 0, Whitney 0-2 0-0 0.  Totals 14-65 17-19 48.
WILLIAMSPORT (23-3)
McCauley 10-17 1-2 24, Green 3-3 0-0 7, Arnone 3-9 5-8 12, Christy 2-8-34-8, Wise 5-8 2-3 12, Butts 1-3 0-0 2, Aleshire 1-3 0-2 2. Totals 25-51 11-19 67.
Pocomoke    7    13    14    14    —    48
Williamsport    16    11    19    21    —    67
3-point goals—Pocomoke 3 (Johnson, Savage 2), Williamsport 6 (McCauley 3, Green, Arnone, Christy). Rebounds—Pocomoke 37 (Williams 8), Williamsport 45 (Christy 13). Steals—Pocomoke 9 (Melendez 4), Williamsport 4 (Christ 2, Wise 2). Assists—Pocomoke 2, Williamsport 19 (McCauley, Green, Arnone 5). Turnovers—Pocomoke 7, Williamsport 15.

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