Williamstown wins again, will face Poca Saturday for state championship
Head coach Scott Sauro’s 16-1 squad now will play for a state title for the first time since 1965 come 12:30 p.m. Saturday against No. 2 Poca, which got a game-winning 3 from Isaac McKneely with less than two seconds remaining to trump third-seeded Charleston Catholic, 42-40.
Marietta College-bound Sam Cremeans scored the first bucket of the affair via a Garret Hill dime 68 seconds in and it was 4-0 at the 4:14 mark after a Gavin Bosgraf baseline reverse lay-in.
The Tigers (9-7), who got 12 points from Brody Dalton, 11 by Devon Workman and nine from Isaiah Fleming, trailed 9-0 and opened the game by missing their first nine field goals and turning it over thrice in the first 5:50.
CHS finally got on the board with a Dalton lay-in to trail by seven after one.
Xavier Caruthers scored all seven of his points in the second quarter as the ‘Jackets led 20-16 at intermission.
“I think it’s exciting to have the opportunity to play for a state championship,” Caruthers said.
Cremeans took over in the third quarter and tallied 13 of his game-high 27 points. He opened the second half 22 ticks in with a three-point play. Baylor Haught, who double-doubled with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, followed with a corner 3 and it was 28-16 when Haught scored inside via a Bosgraf feed.
An offensive rebound by Kent Wigal led to a Cremeans trifecta and a 35-20 advantage with 3:40 left in the third. Although the Tigers got triples from Isaiah Smith and Isaiah Fleming, Cremeans’ bomb with 2:27 to go made it 40-26, which was the score heading into the fourth.
“Big credit for my teammates getting me open,” Cremeans said. “Definitely some extra motivation to want to get back here. I think coming at each game the same with the same mentality, be intense on both ends of the floor (is key).”
WHS made 11 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished 21 of 27 from the charity stripe as the Tigers never got the deficit into single digits.
“I thought the zone was kind of the way to go. Our assistant coaches came up with a great game plan, and you know, the kids executed it,” admitted Sauro. “I thought our kids really battled defensively today. We decided to play some 2-3 zone mainly because when we watched Chapmanville play it seems like every game they played was against a lot of man-to-man, and they literally have 40 sets against a man-to-man.
“We thought the zone would be a little better. I thought they rebounded pretty well (29-19 advantage). That was a big point of emphasis to out-rebound a team who has those tall kids and athletic kids by 10 that says a lot about the effort these guys had. We did a nice job attacking and finding the next man. Sam just kind of took over there in the third quarter. When you’re playing good teams your best offensive players have to step up and I thought he did that.”
Cremeans also added a game-high three blocked shots and tied Haught for game-high steal honors with two.
“It’s a lot of fun just sitting next to these guys and it’s a lot of fun to be able to help them achieve their dreams,” noted Haught.
Hill, who joined Bosgraf with a trio of assists, scored four points on a quartet of fourth period foul shots. Bosgraf also chipped in six points and five caroms.
“Hats off to Williamstown. They were really good. They did everything they had to do to win the game,” admitted Tiger boss Brad Napier. “Williamstown did a great job coming out and playing zone on us and taking away some of the things we like to do.
“They took away a lot of the things we were trying to do and they were really good, but I’m super proud of our guys. It just wasn’t in the cards.”
Looking ahead to Poca and having an opportunity to cut the nets down, coach Sauro said “we’re not satisfied with just being in. We want to win it and be state champs. That’s our goal and that’s Poca’s goal, too. We’re going to fight like crazy to try and come out on top tomorrow. It means a lot. There’s a lot of people who make this happen.
“It’s funny, we’ve been so focused on our first round game and then gather film on Chapmanville we haven’t had much of an opportunity to think about Poca yet. Here’s what I can tell you. Everyone knows they have the best player in the state (McKneely). They also have good pieces around him. The other guys compliment him well.”