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‘Jackets ready for Charleston

Williamstown preps for Frankfort in state tournament

WILLIAMSTOWN — When backs were up against the wall, the Williamstown girls responded. The Yellowjackets started 2-3 and were searching for an identity. That’s when head coach Fred Sauro made the adjustments necessary, as the team bought in by winning 14 of the last 14 games. Now, Williamstown goes to Charleston for the opening round of the Class AA girls’ state tournament as the No. 5 seed.

No. 4 Frankfort awaits, as Sauro knows what his team is up against in Class AA’s first game of the tournament at 11:15 a.m.

“I’ve watched them on film, and they have three very good guards,” he said. “They have kids who can shoot it, attack the rim. They rebound pretty well, but they’re not very big. Man, they get after it.”

The trio for the Falcons is a group Sauro says could create tough matchups, as it’s up to WHS’s new halfcourt defense to help contain them. Maria Perdew leads the way as far as physicality and scoring go for the Falcons, and she’s complemented by point guard Halley Smith. Her ability to drain shots from beyond the arc makes her a dual-threat. Tinsley Groves rounds out the group, as Sauro took notice of her jump shooting and the way she drives to the basket. Throw in other key pieces around them, and Frankfort has the skill needed to give Williamstown a challenge.

“This year we are led by Maria Perdew. To me, I think she is the best junior in the state,” head coach Michael Miller said. “She has an unbelievable work ethic and is an incredible talent who can shoot the lights out. She has post moves and an all-around game that is incredible. Halley Smith is the point guard and heart and soul of our defense. She controls the tempo of the game. They are surrounded by what is necessary to help get the job done the rest of the way.”

Fans of the ‘Jackets are familiar with the talent they bring to the table and it’s what has helped them make it this far. When pressed about who on his team has stepped up the most, Sauro said that every girl on the team had a role to play in this successful season.

“All of them stepped up in different ways,” he said. “Nicole Reynolds is averaging about 11 points a game but is pushing six assists a game. She’s getting very hard to guard She can handle the ball and get downhill on people. Her assist to turnover ratio is about 3.3 to 1, and that’s outstanding. Jayla Wiseman on the inside is a very aggressive scorer. You like that, and you want a kid to score like that. She’s such a coachable kid, and over the last two years, her assist totals have risen dramatically. She’s throwing the ball from the post to the perimeter. She’s seeing teammates cut inside. Lakyn Joy missed about 4-5 games in the middle of the season, and she’s been on a tear ever since she got back.”

“She’s shooting about 43% from the 3-point line. She can do that and defend the ball one-on-one. She’s guarded some of the best in the state. Then, you’ve got Sophie Folwell. She’s really come on as of late. She’s our tough guy. She takes charges, and she really operates well along the baseline. Georgie Inman does so much for us. She’s second on the team in assists, she’s second on the team in rebounding as a guard. I’ve seen her have games where she has ten steals. She has long arms and just deflects everything. Even though she only scores about four points per game, I can’t take her off the floor.”

From there, Sauro talked about key contributors from the bench like Aubrey Erwin, Emily Bailey and Riah Sprouse. That group could see playing time when needed, as the common thread between them is their willingness to buy into this system. On the other side, Miller and the Falcons are where they expected to be. Miller wants his team to understand that, as well.

“It’s just Frankfort tradition.” he said. “We have built a program there, and we expect to be in Charleston. We are not going down there just to participate. We are going down there to try and win a state championship. That is the goal.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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