‘Jackets in state finals

Williamstown rallies 65-59 to advance; fans show loyalty

Michael Uhl Special to the Times Williamstown High cheerleaders root on the girls basketball team during Friday's W.Va. Class A state semifinal game against Wheeling Central at Charleston Civic Center. Williamstown won, 65-59, to advance to Saturday's state championship game against Saint Joseph Central.

By Joe Albright

Special to the Times

Much of the city of Williamstown showed up to watch the Yellowjacket girls’ basketball team earn a come-from-behind 65-59 win over Wheeling Central and advance to the state title game at noon Saturday against familiar foe Huntington St. Joe.

Elementary, middle and high school kids filled the WHS cheering section in addition to the plethora of maroon and gold clad fans throughout the Charleston Civic Center.

“It was just amazing,” said Williamstown head man Fred Sauro. “The support we got from our community is why these guys have the sports programs they do.”

Even with their beloved Williamstown girls basketball team trailing by 12 points early in the third period Yellowjacket fans never lost faith their team would pull out a victory over Wheeling Central in the first of two Class A semifinals Thursday.

“I wasn’t that worried because I thought we had played as bad as we could have played,” said Justin Wager. “They stayed in the game mentally and that was important. We talked to the girls and they are excited, that is for sure.”

Wager, along with his wife and youngest child, will be in attendance for the championship game. The father of Yellowjacket guard Bethany Wager has never seen Sauro’s team play for a state title.

Long-time Yellowjacket fan Gary Habeb was not as positive about the comeback but thought it could happen.

“I really didn’t think we could come back against a very talented Central team,” said Habeb. “I think our pressure eventually got to them. (WHS point guard) Ashley Morris is so competitive and wants the ball in crunch time. She really got beat up and was limping and sore and you could tell she was hurting.”

Players said getting to this level is an amazing feeling.

“It is unbelievable we are finally at this point to play for a state title,” said Morris. “We have had a really tough region the past three years and it was still tough this year. It does mean everything.”