WILLIAMSPORT —The Williamsport boys basketball team is looking for ways to polish its game.
That’s why a glossy finish has become so important to the Wildcats.
Williamsport wanted a smooth start against Smithsburg, but strived for an emphatic end to each quarter on Tuesday to pull away to a 57-42 win over the Leopards in an MVAL Antietam game.
The Wildcats (7-7, 6-3) were fairly smooth throughout the game, but dominated four specific minutes — the last one of each quarter — to wrap up the game. Williamsport outscored Smithsburg 12-5 to close out quarters and used a 22-13 fourth period to ice the game.
“We’ve been talking about not finishing each quarter strong,” said Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray. “We wanted to finish each quarter strongly so that we can start the next one with momentum.”
The notion worked well against the Leopards (6-8, 4-4).
Williamsport trailed 10-9 until a pair of 3s — the first by Riley Arnone with 38 seconds remaining and the other by Sterling Christy with :01 on the clock — gave the Wildcats a 15-10 advantage after one period.
The two 3s started a 10-0 run that bridged the quarters for a 19-10 advantage.
Smithsburg came back to within 22-18 until the final minute before the half.
Christy sank a pair of foul shots with :21 remaining before Williamsport’s defense forced a loose ball, which was picked up by Ryan Crabtree and fed to Nick Johnson for a dunk with :04 remaining for a 26-18 lead at the intermission.
“We were able to contest their shots,” Mowbray said. “We took advantage of what they gave us. When we got that steal and dunk at the end of the half, it really set us up in the second half.”
It was tough for the Leopards to deny.
Smithsburg had trouble shooting against the Wildcats’ defense and was ineffective in those final minutes to allow a game the Leopards were surprisingly in get away.
“For the most part, we played hard,” said Smithsburg coach Mike Williams. “They executed their halfcourt offense very well ... they always do.
“At the end of the first half, we made a lazy pass. We made a lot of mental mistakes and they got that steal and dunk. You have to give Williamsport credit. It was their defensive tenacity.”
The Wildcats looked to go inside to take control of the game in the second half. Johnson hit Williamsport’s first three baskets of the third quarter — all on layups.
“We wanted to get the ball inside to Nick, Sterling or Ben (Seibert) in the second half,” Mowbray said. “We didn’t want to settle for jump shots. Nick is such an untapped talent. We are trying to get it out of him and he’s trying real hard, too.”
The Leopards stayed right there, as Kevin Gibson scored four of his game-high 17 to keep them within 35-29 after three periods.
Each team used pressure in the fourth quarter, but Williamsport got the best of it as Smithsburg went over the foul limit, allowing the Wildcats to score on either layups (six) or foul shots (10) to close out the game.
Johnson finished with 15 points for Williamsport, while Christy and Arnone had 11 each. King backed Gibson’s outing with 12 points for Smithsburg.
Williamsport 57, Smithsburg 42
SMITHSBURG (6-8, 4-4)
King 12, Sprecher 4, Stevens 5, Gibson 17, Tracy 4. Totals 17 6-10 42.
WILLIAMSPORT (7-7, 6-3)
Crabtree 8, Arnone 11, Christy 11, Cross 4, Johnson 15, Seibert 8. Totals 19 15-25 57.
Smithsburg 10 8 11 13 — 42
Williamsport 15 26 9 22 — 57
3-point goals — Smithsburg 2 (King, Gibson), Williamsport 4 (Arnone 2, Crabtree, Christy).