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State bound: Williamstown knocks off St. Marys in regional co-final

Photo by Tyler Bennett Williamstown’s Garret Hill (55) signals to a teammate as St. Marys’ Grant Barnhart (31) defends during a high school boys basketball regional co-final Thursday. Williamstown won, 70-58.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Visiting St. Marys and junior guard Grant Barnhart were able to counter-attack the Class AA top-ranked Williamstown during the first half of a Class AA, Region I co-final.

But the Yellowjackets’ offense was too much for the Blue Devils after intermission thanks to senior guards Xavier Caruthers and Sam Cremeans, giving Williamstown the 70-58 victory on Thursday night to advance to the state tournament.

Caruthers was the leader in points for the ‘Jackets, scoring 28 while shooting 50% from the field, five for six at the charity stripe, four rebounds and one steal.

The senior was deadly from behind the arc, draining seven in 11 attempts. Caruthers saved his best performance in the second half, scoring 16 points alone.

Cremeans chipped in 20 points on 50% shooting, grabbed eight boards and had three assists as well.

Senior guard Garret Hill had nine points, two assists and a block.

“So happy for our kids, they put up a ton of work all season long. It’s not just in basketball season,” Williamstown head coach Scott Sauro said. “It’s spring, summer and fall. This was a goal of theirs to win regional and have a chance to compete for a state title and we have given ourselves that chance.”

Barnhart gave fits to ‘Jackets’ defenders, especially being a handful in the first half, scoring 21 out of his 28 points.

“We knew that Grant Barnhart is one of the best players in the state regardless of class and he showed it tonight, especially in the first half,” Sauro said.

Luke Webb was the other double-digit scorer with 11 points and Brandon Lawhon finished with nine points.

Barnhart found his teammate Logan Rice to give the Blue Devils the first bucket at the 7:40 mark, but Williamstown responded with two 3s, one from Caruthers off an assist from Hill and the other one from Cremeans.

Barnhart was fouled on two successful drives to the rim, but was unable to convert the and-1s on both attempts.

Barnhart and Cremeans would duel with each other to close out the first. Barnhart scored nine points, six coming from behind the arc, while Cremeans had five.

Barnhart’s 3 with 1:40 left in the first gave St Marys the 18-15 lead after playing one.

In the opening minutes of the second quarter, Caruthers drilled two 3s, with a 3 from Barnhart sandwiched in between, to cut the Blue Devil lead to 21-20. St. Marys extended the lead to three on a lay-in from Rice, but Alex Irvin made the first of his two treys in the second, to tie it all up.

The Blue Devils took their final lead of the game, with Barnhart going perfect at the free-throw line, as Williamstown ended the second on an 11-3 run that saw Hill make a deep buzz-beater to take a 34-28 lead.

The hosts continued to ride the momentum in the third period, going on a 13-3 in the first four minutes, Cremeans making three from deep, and Caruthers with three points.

St. Marys kept it close in the fourth, matching the total of points in the fourth 19-19, but was unable to cut the ‘Jackets lead into single digits.

“We tried to get other people other than Caruthers and Cremeans to hurt us and they did. In the first half, we weren’t that disappointed. We were down six and we thought we’d done a pretty good job,” St. Marys head coach Mark Barnhart said. “Then I thought they did a nice job of making it hard for Grant. They switched their defenses up multiple times and made it hard for him.”

Repeating as the top-seed, Williamstown will play eighth seed Moorefield at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

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