When Zach Tucker climbed the ladder to cut down the nets, he knew his team had just accomplished something special. The “MVP” chants filled the gym as the senior guard worked his way up. Moments before the net cutting, the Century student section stormed the court to celebrate with their team, who had just earned a berth into the state semifinals.
Despite only shooting 3 of 8 in the first half, Tucker got his shot going in the second half and scored a team high 20 points to lead No. 20 Century to a 64-48 win over the Williamsport Wildcats.
“They were face guarding me so everyone was setting their screens and doing their role, which is why I got on a roll,” Tucker said. “It was a whole team effort”
After taking a 19-11 lead after the first quarter, the Knights offense struggled to score in the second quarter. Foul trouble forced two Century starters to the bench. Williamsport amped up the defensive pressure and began to utilize a full-court press. Century was held scoreless on 10 straight possessions in the second quarter and only scored five points.
Even with the offensive woes, the Knights took a 24-21 lead into halftime on seven points from Tucker and eight from Chris Norman.
“It’s big confidence,” Tucker said. “Going into half with the lead with two of our main players was a huge confidence booster for us.”
This was not the first time these two teams met this season. Back in early December, the Wildcats pulled out a 56-44 win over Century. The loss served as a learning experience for the Knights.
“That loss was important for us,” said Century head coach George Wunder. “It really changed the way we looked at how we were playing we improved every day since then.”
The second half was all Century. Adam Rolfes hit two big 3-pointers, including one at the top of the key to spark an 8-2 run for the Knights coming out of the half. The shot ignited the Century crowd and forced Williamsport to take a timeout, down nine with 4:35 left in the quarter. Century outscored the Wildcats 16-5 and continued to add onto the lead the rest of the game.
A 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter stretched the Century lead to 20 points. Williamsport hit the double bonus in just two and a half minutes into the fourth and the Knights took advantage, going 13-for-18 from the line. Twenty-one points from Jake Arnone brought the Wildcats within 14 at the end, but it was not enough. With just over a minute left to play, Wunder subbed out the starters, who received a loud ovation from the crowd.
Century will now head to College Park on Friday to play in the 2A state semifinals. The Knights will look to stay on a roll as they take on No. 18 Central. Central is coming off of a 88-72 win over Westlake in the 2A South region final.
“We have nine seniors and I am really happy for those guys,” Wunder said. “To have the opportunity to go down to College Park and play in a state semifinal, there’s nothing like it.”