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Xavier Caruthers, Sam Cremeans ready to hoop again for ’Jackets

Times file photo Williamstown’s Xavier Caruthers handles the ball during a high school boys basketball game last season.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Last year’s Williamstown Yellowjackets were on a collision course towards a deep run at the Class A state basketball tournament in Charleston before current events put an end to the 2020 postseason. Ask any Yellowjacket, and they’ll tell you the team’s focus is on this season. It’s not hard to see why.

A majority of last year’s standouts return to head coach Scott Sauro’s squad, including senior playmakers, Xavier Caruthers and Sam Cremeans. Both players look to pick up where they left off in 2020, as Cremeans’s first year at WHS netted him a first-team all-state nod, while Caruthers’s guard play in 2020 earned him second-team honors.

Followers of last season’s team are sure to remember the balanced attack and deep bench utilized Sauro, which led to plenty of opportunities for the entire team. That makes the all-state selections earned by Cremeans (15.0 ppg) and Caruthers (12.7 ppg) all the more impressive.

Cremeans shot 69 percent from the free throw line and 54 percent from the floor, and when factoring in his 42 made three-pointers from last regular season, it was clear he thrived at the head of the offense. Caruthers made a living from beyond the arc, and his 64 made 3-balls tie him with St. Marys’ Grant Barnhart for the most of any returning LKC player. His 93 percent mark on free throws made him a near-automatic shooter at the stripe compared to most in Class A.

Cremeans has high hopes for the upcoming slate of games in 2021, and he wants the team to pick up right where it left off in 2020.

Times file photo Williamstown’s Sam Cremeans brings the ball up the court during a high school boys basketball game against St. Marys last season.

“Not a whole lot’s been going on as a team. Whenever we have been able to get in the gym together, we’ve all been really motivated and happy to be there,” Cremeans said. “I try to put in a lot of time, and I take advantage of the time I’ve got. I think I can speak for most of the team when I say we got over (last season ending early). We felt bad for the seniors, but it’s a new year and a new season, hopefully.”

Sauro was complimentary of the duo, as they return alongside so many others who are ready to take a step forward in the new year.

We’re glad to have them. The first thing about Sam and X is that they both have high basketball IQs,” he said. “We’re looking forward to getting after it. They played so much basketball growing up, that they understand. They both played when they were young by getting time in games as freshmen and sophomores. They were getting experience that was really valuable to them. Both guys shot over 40 percent from 3, and those are just wild numbers, considering that people were trying to stop them from getting good looks. That’s says a lot about their work ethic, because they shoot a lot, and they earned it.”

The high-octane offense from a year ago saw a combination of inside and outside shooting presence, and Cremeans believes the team will have to rely on the same “firepower” from deep to get the job done.

“Last year, we were able to rely maybe a little bit more on our size, because we had a couple 6’6 guys. This year, we’re going to come with the same firepower,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a really strong team. A lot of our strength is going to come from our quickness and being able to get up the floor quickly.”

oth players are more focused on helping the team rather than collecting any individual awards that come their way, as togetherness is what brought them to the dance in 2020. Speaking about Caruthers, Cremeans praised his defense and scoring ability.

“He’s a great asset to the team. He puts in 100 percent every time he’s out there,” Cremeans said. “He puts in all his effort on defense, and he’s a really good shooter. He’s a great passer with great vision, and I think his attitude of wanting to win every game is going to help us get the rest of the team motivated.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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