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Champs again

Williamstown is too much for Clay County in final

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Williamstown’s Xavier Caruthers fires a pass upcourt during the Yellowjackets 55-44 win over Clay County in Monday’s LKC title game.

GLENVILLE — In a battle of top-five ranked Class AA programs here Monday night at the Waco Center, No. 1 Williamstown held fourth-rated Clay County to its season low in points as the Yellowjackets prevailed 55-44 to capture back-to-back Little Kanawha Conference championship games.

Tanner Faulkiner scored the 10-3 Panthers’ first five points, but Williamstown never trailed after Baylor Haught found Alex Irvin for a 3 and an 8-7 cushion at 2:14 of the first.

Sam Cremeans got the shooter’s touch on a late triple to push the lead to 15-9, but Elijah Payton’s deuce via an Andrew Adkins dime kept the Panthers within four after one at 15-11.

Curtis Litton, who went for 14 points and 10 rebounds, scored inside via a Caleb Atha assist to open the second, but the Panthers never got any closer.

Cremeans answered Litton’s field goal with one of his own after Ryan Wager found him open and it was 22-13 with 3:55 left after Cremeans hit from downtown following a pass from Seth Hammer.

Irvin, who joined Haught and fellow teammate Xavier Caruthers in scoring eight points apiece, knocked down another 3 for a 25-18 lead. A Litton putback before the buzzer allowed the Panthers to close it to 27-20 at intermission.

Clay County, which limited the ‘Jackets to 31.4% (15 of 47) from the field, fell behind by double figures for the first time at 30-20 after Haught opened the third with a putback and Cremeans hit a foul shot.

Cremeans led all scorers with 21 points and finished 9 of 10 from the charity stripe.

Although a Colten Pritt trifecta made it 30-23, WHS pushed ahead by a baker’s dozen at 36-23 after a Caruthers trey and it was 40-26 after Irvin had a reverse lay-in.

The Panthers trailed by a dozen entering the fourth after getting their final basket of the stanza from Pritt.

The Yellowjackets of head man Scott Sauro, who defeated Webster County in last year’s title game, opened the fourth with a corner 3 by Hammer. Hammer joined Gavin Bosgraf in chipping in five counters apiece.

Clay County was unable to get the deficit back to single digits, although it was 43-32 early in the fourth after an Atha putback and 47-37 with 5:01 left following a deep bomb by Grant Krajeski, who finished with a quartet of 3s for 12 markers.

“It feels great,” Sauro said of winning consecutive LKC championships. “Our goal every year is to try and see if we can win the conference. That’s goal number one and to be able to do that against what we think is a really quality team and they are big, can shoot it and are athletic and defend well.”

“That was a great test for us. For us to win against such a good team feels great because we have a lot of respect for their program.”

Sauro’s squad hit 18 of 21 from the free-throw line while the Panthers made 5 of 10.

“That says a lot about the defensive performance from these kids,” the coach added of holding Clay County to its lowest scoring output.

“You know, I thought our assistant coaches put together a great game plan and then our kids executed it pretty well. He (Wager) was awesome. That’s the thing. These guys don’t care who scores. They really don’t. They want to contribute to a win.

“From Gavin Bosgraf and Seth Hammer handling the ball and Ryan Wager getting five offensive rebounds, you know, he’s the smallest guy on the floor. Even Trevor Oates and Kent Wigal when they went in gave quality minutes and Baylor (game-high 13 rebounds) doing his thing in there and he’s kind of the heartbeat of our team. It says a lot about the kids. They just want to win.”

CONSOLATION GAME

St. Marys 64, Webster County 52

Grant Barnhart, who had 10 rebounds, pumped in 18 of his game-high 29 points in the first half to help lead Class AA, No. 5 St. Marys to a 64-52 victory against No. 6, Class A Webster County.

The 12-3 Blue Devils were aided in their 22-point first quarter by a trio of 3s from Luke Webb, who scored 13. Waylon Moore’s hoop with less than a minute left in the first put the Blue Devils ahead for good at 19-17 and Barnhart’s three-point play had the HIghlanders (7-5) in a 22-17 hole after one.

Carter Williams had 14 of his team-high 21 points in the first half for WCHS, which trailed 29-22 after Ben Long assisted on a Logan Rice field goal. Kyan Gillespie’s deuce via a Kaden Cutlip dime later closed it to 29-26, but Barnhart hit from downtown and Brandon Lawhon did the same for a 35-26 cushion with 1:47 left in the half.

SMHS, which connected on 7 of 12 from 3-point land and shot 61.9% (13 of 21) in the first 16 minutes, held a 37-28 halftime advantage.

Rye Gadd, who finished with 15 points, started a 6-0 spurt with a trifecta that was followed by two Connor Bell foul shots and one from Devin Coley to make it a one-possession game at 39-36 with 3:36 remaining in the third.

The Blue Devils led 48-42 entering the fourth, but a three-point play by Williams, who double-doubled with a game-high 11 boards, later cut it to 50-47. Long, who scored seven points and had a game-high six assists, made it 52-47 after a turn around jumper in the paint he kissed off the glass.

Webster County’s last time being down by one possession came with 3:33 remaining following two Gadd charity stripe tosses. Luke Powell pushed the lead to 56-51 after a bucket as the final Highlander point came via a Riley Clevenger free throw.

Lawhon finished with eight points and Bell had seven.

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