Anthony Williams was extra motivated when he took the court Tuesday for the final home game of his high school career. That’s because the Cardinal Spellman three-year starter arrived late before the regular season finale against Salesian.
“I feel like I let my coach down,” the senior guard said. “I came in and felt I had to make it up to him.”
Williams did that, scoring a game-high 25 points to lead the Pilots to a 72-59 win over Salesian in a CHSAA Class A encounter broadcast live on MSGVarsity.com.
“I believe [I made up for it],” Williams said.
If Williams had arrived late for a game last month, longtime Spellman coach Fred Opper would have likely disciplined the standout. But Senior Day was different.
“I was a nice guy today,” Opper said.
And Williams rewarded Opper’s kindness, burying three of his five 3-pointers in the third quarter. Williams sat for much of the fourth quarter.
“He’s a three-year starter, he’s a hard worker,” Opper said. “He’s here at practice early, he works on his game all the time. He’s a good competitor, a confident kid and a terrific shooter.”
Shawn Weddeburn added 12 points and Domenic Arena had 11 for Cardinal Spellman (18-4), which connected for nine 3-pointers. Kyle Williams scored a team-high 20 points for Salesian (4-18), which fell behind 11-0 to start the game and could never recover.
“It’s very big, very important because it’s my last home game as a senior so I had to end it with a bang,” Williams said.
Spellman also ended the regular season with a bang one day after clinching the New York Archdiocesan ‘A’ division title with a win against All Hallows.
The last division crown for Spellman was in 1999, which was also the last time the Pilots reached the Class A final, losing in a heartbreaker to St. Edmund Prep.
A year removed from a 10-14 season, Spellman will now have a first-round bye and is considered a favorite to win the Class A title.
“We have to continue what we’ve done during the season and take it into the playoffs,” Williams said. “We have to continue working hard and not let up on anything.”
Opper has drilled into his team the importance of not getting too excited about how well the regular season went. After all, he said, everyone has the same record at the start of the playoffs.
“I remind them every day,” Opper said. “Now we’re the hunted. They’re coming after us. How we react will determine how well we’ll do.”