If the Wilmington girls basketball wants to make it to the championship game, they're going to have to beat the champs to get there.
After holding on to beat Waltham and doing the same against Gloucester, the Lady Wildcats are in the North Division 2 semifinal game against defending state champion Arlington Catholic.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. inside Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill, with a berth in the sectional final on the line.
"I think with only one day to prepare, we just have to work on some things that we need to work on as a team for ourselves, and just go out there and defend like we did (against Gloucester)," said Wilmington head coach Jay Keane following his team's .
Arlington Cathloic earned the No. 2 seed in the bracket with a 20-3 overall mark during the regulr season. That included an 11-1 Catholic Central Large School Division record, and a share of the league crown.
In the playoffs, the defending champs had a first round bye and then steamrolled Latin Academy, 56-20, in the quarterfinals to set up the match up with Wilmington.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, are battle tested. In both of their playoff games, the team built leads of 20 points or more before holding off late charges to win and advance.
"We’re definitely pumped up to play AC," said senior Meaghan Stinson. "I know a few years back Wilmington and AC had a game and it came right down to the wire. We don’t expect anything less from the defending state champs."
Whoever wins Wednesday's game will be able to celebrate. But not for long.
Top seed and unbeaten Reading will be the likely opponent waiting at the TsongasCenter on Saturday. After piling up a 20-0 regular season mark, Reading had a first round bye and then thumped Salem, 55-34 in its quarterfinal round.
Reading plays Concord-Carlisle in Woburn tonight at 7 p.m., and is likely to add another convincing win to its resume against the No. 13 seed with a 7-11 record.
Stinson said her team's approach to Wednesday night's game is to come in even keeled, ready to do what earned them the No. 3 seed after a 16-4 season.
"We won’t come into the game cocky, thinking we’re going to win, or even thinking we’re going to lose," said Stinson. "We’re going to play as hard as we do in practice from the beginning of the game to the end. We take a lot of pride in our hustle, and playing to the end, giving it our all every time we’re on the court no matter who we’re playing or the location."