WILLIAMSPORT—The Williamsport boys basketball team gave Liberty an anatomy lesson on Tuesday.
The Wildcats used their heads, along with Sterling Christy’s strong back and hot hand, to knock off the Lions.
Christy scored 24 points — including 19 in the second half and 11 in the fourth quarter — to lead Williamsport to a 56-40 victory over Liberty in the opening round of the Maryland Class 2A West tournament.
“Riley (Arnone) and Sterling had the ball in their hands most of the game,” said Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray. “Sterling played well in the second half. We pretty much put it on his back and he got us that good lead.”
The Wildcats avenged a 32-31 loss to the Lions on Jan. 15 to move into the West quarterfinals at South Carroll on Thursday.
Williamsport (14-9) led 21-14 at the half and 25-19 with 4:44 left in the third quarter. Christy scored the Wildcats’ final eight of the period to post a 33-27 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Christy and Nick Johnson combined for 16 of Williamsport’s 23 points to put the game away.
“Coach told me that he wanted the ball in my hands,” Christy said. “‘It is on your back,’ he said. “He wanted me to make plays by scoring and dishing the ball off.”
Christy couldn’t have done it all without the help of his friends, as his teammates did a good job of finding open men for scores and a better job of contesting Liberty shots.
Williamsport didn’t have its best night scoring, but it’s much easier when you force the other team to get less than you do.
“We did a nice job switching on defense tonight and did a good job taking away the angles from them,” Mowbray said. “Our offense struggled, but Liberty is a good defensive team. They were allowing 48 points a game and they are long and lean, making it tough to get around.”
That’s where the passing came into play, led mostly by Arnone.
“I’ve been taking different roles each game,” Arnone said. “It depends on what’s happening in each game. We knew we had to get the ball in low to Sterling and Nick. Today, I wasn’t feeling it and was getting it to Sterling to finish.”
Liberty (12-11) and Williamsport played tightly in the first quarter, locking in four early ties, including one at 7-7 after the first quarter.
The Lions jumped out to a 9-7 lead on J.C. Farley’s layup to open the second quarter. Williamsport bounced back with a 12-0 run over the next 4:10 to establish an 18-9 advantage before settling for the seven-point advantage at the half.
Liberty used a 3-pointer by Rase Burke with 5:22 to go in the third quarter to crawl within 23-19, before the saddle was thrown on Christy.
Williamsport moved to a 47-35 lead on a slam by Christy off a pass from Johnson with 3:51 remaining in the game.
The Wildcats iced the game by scoring the final seven points in the final 1:33, all from the free throw line, to turn it into a runaway. Arnone started it by hitting three of four from the line on a two-shot foul and a technical.
Johnson finished with 15 points. Chad Barcikowski led Liberty with 11, including three 3s.
Williamsport 56, Liberty 40
Burke 8, Bode 3, Prechit 5, Hutchinson 2, Sweeney 3, Barcikowski 11, Farley 8. Totals 15 8-12 40.
Crabtree 6, Arnone 5, Christy 24, Crose 2, Johnson 15, Seibert 4. Totals 19 16-25 56.
Liberty 7 7 13 13 — 40
Williamsport 7 14 12 23 — 56
3-point goals — Liberty 5 (Barcikowski 3, Burke, Bode), Williamsport 2 (Crabtree 2). Fouled out — Burke, Barcikowski. Technical foul — Burke.