Wicomico, or Wi-Hi as it is known to locals in the Salisbury area, showed some real hop as it traveled to Joppatowne, Friday night, and flew past the host Mariners, 60-40, in the boys 2A East Region championship game. The Indians will now advance to the state basketball semifinals for the first time in four years.
Despite an injury which sent starting point guard Rashaan Handy to the hospital with a separated shoulder, shortly after tip-off Friday, Wicomico (24-2) was able to control the tempo as it gradually built a 34-18 first half lead and it would lead by as many as 18 early in the third quarter. The Indians fed off the inside dominance of Thomas Brown, who had a double-double and scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the opening half.
Early in the third quarter, Joppatowne (22-4) started to rally as Khalil Gore drained consecutive three-pointers and the reigning Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference champs went on an 11-0 run to cut their deficit to just nine points. However, Larry Ennis, who scored eight first quarter points for the Indians, responded with a basket, as did Derrick Hayward, and Wi-Hi was soaring once again.
The game’s exclamation point came early in the fourth quarter when Dennikson Mathurin, who filled in for Handy at the point, came up with a steal and fed Brown for a rim-rattling break-away dunk. Brown, a senior, added 13 rebounds to his point total.
Clutching the 2A championship plaque at the game’s conclusion, Brown said, “It’s amazing. I can’t explain how this feels. We’re happy to be headed to states.”
Hayward, who patrolled the paint with Brown, also had a double-double for the Indians, as he finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Gore finished with 11 points for the Mariners and Markell Huggins led Joppatowne with 16 points.
Wicomico, in search of its first state crown in 11 years, will meet Calvert next Friday at Comcast Center (9:00 p.m.) in a 2A state semifinal contest. Calvert advanced on Thursday with a 69-67 win over Oakland Mills.