GEORGETOWN – In a battle of the SBAAC’s American and National Division champions, Wilmington outlasted Georgetown 73-61 Saturday night.
Before a spirited home crowd decked out in yellow and black, on a Hall of Fame Night, the Georgetown G-Men (15-6) gave the Hurricane a real battle before the Hurricane pulled away in the end to nail down victory No. 17 on the year.
Wilmington goes to 17-5 with the win. Georgetown falls to 15-7.
Beaming with pride when he emerged from the victorious locker room, WHS head coach Mike Noszka was pleased with his squad’s performance in 2017-18.
“In this, my 20th season of coaching varsity basketball, I am so proud of those kids in that locker room, every one of them, for believing in themselves, especially when some people did not,” he said. “To accomplish what they just did (17 wins in the regular season and 10-0 in the conference) is outstanding. Tonight was a challenge, and Georgetown threw everything at us they could, and down the stretch our kids had the poise and determination to get the job done.”
It was a 17-all standoff in the opening quarter, Wilmington won second period, 22-9, taking a 39-26 lead at the intermission. After three, it was the Hurricane with a 54-40 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Georgetown seized the momentum and chipped away at the double-digit deficit, getting the margin down to seven before Wilmington pulled away, thanks to an outstanding effort at the free throw line.
What made Saturday’s game different, as compared to the previous 21, was the lack of a made three-point shot. Noszka says it was by design.
“We have been too reliant on shooting the three-point shot, and today we focused on penetrating and taking it inside,” he said. “Plus, we worked real hard on making our free throws. We’ve become complacent there (free throw lane), and in the tournament, you’ve got to make them. It’s gonna be crucial for us.”
Wilmington was 17 for 21 at the line against the G-Men. In the final period, the Hurricane was 11 for 14 at the stripe.
Curtis Gauche stopped a 6-2 Georgetown run in the fourth by hitting the front end of a one-and-one. That gave WHS a 58-52 lead with 3:00 to play.
Senior Jeffery Mansfield, who led all players in scoring with 26, converted eight of his 11 free throw attempts for the game.
Matthew Smith added 19 points (10 in the first half and nine in the second half), and senior Layne Griffith added 10 points, including eight in the second half. Smith made a pair of free throws to put WHS up 60-52 then Mansfield converted one to make it 61-52.
With the post-season right around the corner, Noszka compared this WHS squad to another in his 13-year Hurricane career.
“This team reminds me of the 2012 squad, which fought through its share of adversity, and these kids are really determined to go far,” he said. “They have been so dedicated, especially the group of seniors. You can count on one hand the number of times that guys like Curtis, Matt, Layne, and Jeffery were not there. That 2012 squad made it all the way to the districts. Hopefully, this squad can make a run similar to that team.”
Wilmington will face Colerain 7 p.m. Saturday in the opening round of the Division I Sectional at Lakota West High School
February 17 2018
@Brian Grant Court
Wilmington 73 Georgetown 61
(73) WILMINGTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Morris 2-0-0-4 Gauche 2-0-1-5 Griffith 4-0-2-10 Smith 8-0-3-19 Mansfield 9-0-8-26 Coomer 2-0-3-7 Taylor 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 28-0-17-73
(61) GEORGETOWN (fg-3fgh-ft-tp) Cahall 1-0-0-2 Gast 6-4-1-14 Brookbank 0-0-2-2 Doss 4-0-1-9 Householder 0-0-0-0 Strickland 4-3-0-11 Elis 3-0-0-6 Pack 6-0-2-14. TOTALS 24-7-6-61
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet.