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Williamstown Summer League concludes

Photo by Josh Hughes Parkersburg South’s Cole Joy handles the ball as Williamstown’s Payton Bunch defends during Thursday’s Williamstown Summer League championship basketball game.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Williamstown’s summer basketball league is the proverbial calm before the storm. Combining JV and varsity squads from around the area, 18 teams competed in the league, as Thursday afternoon saw fast-paced action en route to a league champion being crowned.

Parkersburg South was hard at work all summer, and the past couple days saw the Patriots in action at different tournaments. Even with lots of play under PSHS’s belt, assistant coach Mark Cothern’s crew claimed the league title with a 58-40 win over Williamstown. A slow start for the visitors saw them down after a 7-0 WHS run, but that’s when adjustments were made to claw back in and eventually put the game away.

Point guard Austin Reeves tallied 16 points while anchoring the offense, and he gave his thoughts on the league and rest of the offseason.

“We were all tired, and we started off slow,” he said. “We had to get our feet under us and continue to play hard. I think we’re going to be good (going into the 2022-23 season). If we just keep getting the team chemistry down, we’re going to be really good.”

Cothern went into greater detail about all the obstacles South faced leading up to the tournament. The Patriots’ first-round game against Caldwell was scrapped due to CHS pulling out of the tournament, but Cothern and company still had to be ready to play at 6 p.m. against Federal Hocking.

“The thing that’s impressed me the most about what we’ve accomplished this offseason is that we’ve been solid and have been able to do a lot of things with some kids who haven’t been here with football and so forth,” Cothern said following the double-digit win over Federal Hocking. “We were down at West Virginia State earlier today and had three games. We were actually at George Washington last night and went 3-0 down there. It was a quick turnaround to West Virginia State and played three really solid teams (Logan, Winfield and Shady Spring). I was really proud of the boys and how they played (beating those teams).”

Although Williamstown came up short, head coach Scott Sauro’s team knocked off Marietta in dramatic fashion to advance to the title game.

“The league has been really good for all the teams involved,” Sauro said. “We’re kind of the central location for a lot of these schools. It’s worked out well, and we get to play teams in this league we don’t get to play in the regular season. With Fort Frye and Waterford, we don’t get to play them all the time. Same with Caldwell and Marietta, so with those Ohio schools, it’s good to play these teams we don’t always get to play.”

Speaking of Marietta, the Tigers came from behind to vanquish St. Marys in the quarterfinals, as assistant Troy Francis almost took MHS to the title game. Even though it wasn’t meant to be, he was still happy with how the team played.

“I feel like we didn’t have the energy in the beginning, but it picked up at the end for us to come out on top,” Francis said of the win over SMHS. “The kids are adapting well to the new head coach (Austin Gardner) with him trying to switch up things. They’re adapting really well.”

Gardner, who was in attendance, said this time is to see what his team brings to the table heading into this season.

“All I ask in the summertime is just effort. How hard can we play? Can we guard somebody, and can we share the ball and take care of it? That’s been the whole summer for us, and I’m evaluating everything. Just getting to know and understand the guys and what they think their role is, we’ve been keeping it simple and getting them to play hard. We want to win games, but at the same time, we’re still learning what they’re trying to do. What’s their attitude like? What’s their body language like? I think that translates to how we play on the floor.”

For St. Marys, head coach Mark Barnhart noted a difference in how his team played from the beginning of summer to now. Even in defeat, he was positive about his team’s body of work.

“From where we were at for our first summer league game, I think we’ve come a long way,” he said. “Ball movement has become a lot better. Defense, in general, has got a lot better. Every facet of the game has gotten better. We had three days at Marietta last week, which I believe helped us. We actually played this Marietta team last week, and this was a much better game we gave them today than we did last week.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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