Anthony Williams has been aware of his limitations on the basketball court since grammar school. The Cardinal Spellman junior guard also knows his strength.
“I could never dribble so I just sit in one corner and shoot,” he said.
That’s just what Williams did twice in the fourth quarter – burying a pair of huge 3-pointers to help lead Cardinal Spellman to a 63-54 victory against Monsignor McClancy in the opening round of the CHSAA Class A intersectional playoffs at Mount St. Michael.
“He’s a pure shooter,” Spellman coach Fred Opper said of Williams. “He’s been shooting it all year. When he gets open, he’s going to knock it down.”
Williams scored a game-high 25 points, including four 3-pointers. His sweet shot was from the corner, where one of his two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter bounced high off the rim and in.
“It’s called a shooter’s touch,” Williams said. “It was [a gift] from God.”
Whatever it’s called, it helped guide the Pilots into the quarterfinals where they will take on Xavier next Saturday at a site to be determined.
The division rivals met twice during the regular season – with the Knights winning both by a combined seven points.
“It’s nice to get to the next round,” Opper said. “Xavier is playing maybe the best basketball in the league. They’re a young team that’s playing well. We have to do a better job offensively. We have a week to prepare, which is nice.”
Spellman (10-12) trailed 29-24 at the half, but outscored McClancy (11-14), 17-5 in what turned out to be the decisive third quarter.
“Coach is always telling us we have to come out strong in the third quarter,” Williams said.
While Williams’ 3-pointers were huge, so too was the Pilots dedication to defense after halftime.
“The defense had to get better,” Opper said. “They love to put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop, they’re a penetration club. We did a good job in the second half of not allowing them to get to the basket.”
Opper said he caught a glimpse of Williams potential in the second half of the season a year ago. On Saturday, Williams dazzled especially in the second half when he scored 19 points, including a 3-pointer almost immediately out of the locker room.
“It’s nice to have a junior like that,” Opper said.
But Williams wasn’t the only hero for the Pilots.
Matt Kerrigan had 14 points and four steals and Evan Carrillo added 12, while Opper credited the play of junior point guard Justice Walters in the second half.
Chris Ramos and Brian Berrios had 17 points apiece and Austin-John Higgins added 12 for McClancy, which got as close as three points in the fourth quarter before Williams knocked down a dagger 3-pointer with 4:46 left.
While McClancy’s season ends, Spellman will get a third chance to defeat Xavier, this time with a berth in the CHSAA Class A intersectional semifinals on the line.
“The only reason we lost to them is because we didn’t come out strong in the first quarter,” Williams said. “That dictates the entire game for us.”
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler