Prep boys basketball: Williamstown tops Ritchie 65-52

WILLIAMSTOWN – Williamstown is starting to earn a reputation, and it’s one the Yellowjackets have been able to overcome for the most part.

Friday night at Williamstown High School, a slow start left the Yellowjackets trailing Ritchie County by six points in the opening stages of the second quarter but a solid showing for the remainder of the half put the Rebels in a hole they could not climb out of.

Four Williamstown players scored in double figures as the Yellowjackets defeated Ritchie County 65-52 and improved to 7-3 and 5-1 in the Little Kanawha Conference’s North Division.

“We even talked about that before the game -let’s get off to a fast start,” Williamstown coach Scott Sauro said. “Credit Ritchie. They made shots and they made plays. Again it took us a few minutes to get going – we need to get off to better starts.”

The Yellowjackets’ top scorer Landon Travis put up typical numbers with a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds. Adding 16 points in the post was Gage Wix, while point guard Hunter Neely finished with 15 points and eight assists. Completing a bulk of the Williamstown scoring was Chandler Weber with 10 points.

“Hunter is really turning into an effective point guard for us,” Sauro said. “He’s had some growing pains. Last year, we threw those sophomores into the fire and told them to go play against 18-year-olds.

“All of our sophomores took some lumps last year, but that year was very valuable because they learned how to play at varsity speed. As far as Hunter, he has grown a lot.”

Ritchie County’s Seth Cottrill made life troublesome for the Williamstown contingent after scoring 10 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter. His only 3-pointer of the night with just less than a minute remaining in the period put the Rebels in front 16-13.

Teammate A.J. Collins knocked down a 3-pointer to open the second-quarter scoring and all of a sudden the Yellowjackets trailed 19-13.

Williamstown answered with a 17-4 run over the next five minutes thanks to the interior play of Travis, who was giving up at least 6 inches to his defender – Riley Allen. Despite the mismatch, Travis gained the edge as Allen picked up his third foul midway in the second quarter.

Travis accounted for half of his scoring output in the second quarter, while Allen enjoyed a better showing in the second half and ended the game with eight points and eight rebounds.

“We were wanting to attack (Allen) because we have a lot of respect for him -he is a good post player,” Sauro said. “We wanted to get some fouls on him and fortunately Landon is good at creating contact then finishing around the basket.”

Ritchie County closed to within 30-27, but that was close as the Rebels would get the remainder of game as Williamstown closed the first half with four straight points and opened the second half with a 9-2 run for a 43-29 advantage.

The margin never reached single digits again as Ritchie County slipped to 3-6 and 1-4 in the LKC North Division.

“Ritchie has a couple of outstanding players in Cottrill and Allen, and when they are on the floor you never feel comfortable,” Sauro said. “We felt like we were in control in the second half, but the lead never ballooned out.”