Prep boys basketball: Jackets defeat Titans

WILLIAMSTOWN – Williamstown just stirred the pot where sectional seeding is concerned.

Tuesday night at Williamstown High School, the Yellowjackets avenged a loss from early January by defeating 10th-ranked Gilmer County, 65-52. The victory snapped the Titans’ seven-game win streak.

“We have a lot of respect for Gilmer County – they’ve played a very good schedule, so this is a great win for us,” Williamstown coach Scott Sauro said after his ballclub won for the fourth straight game and improved to 14-5. “Even though there is only a week and a half left in the regular season, I think this game has to be taken into consideration. It deserves a look, especially after beating a quality sectional opponent.”

Gilmer trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half then closed to within three points at 49-46 on a 3-pointer from Austin Cunningham with just under six minutes remaining in regulation.

Over the next five minutes, the Titans made just one field goal as the Yellowjackets put the game away with a 16-2 run. Williamstown also won the battle from the foul line after converting 16-of-24 attempts compared to just 1-of-5 for Gilmer County.

“Williamstown was the aggressor,” Gilmer County coach Steve Shuff said as his team slipped to 16-4. “The biggest difference was that we couldn’t keep them off the free-throw line and we couldn’t get to the free-throw line.

“Williamstown is as good as any team in our sectional. If they get rolling at the right time, they could make some noise. I’ve said that since preseason.”

Williamstown sophomore Landon Travis led all scorers with 23 points, while Chandler Weber and Gage Wix pitched in 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Yellowjackets.

High-percentage shots by Williamstown in the first half resulted in a sizzling 68 percent from the floor. At one point, the Yellowjackets built a 30-16 advantage. The Titans, though, responded with nine consecutive points just before the end of the half and trailed 34-25 at intermission.

One of three three-point plays in the game by Travis pushed Williamstown back in front by 14 at 44-30 late in the third quarter. With the fourth quarter remaining, Gilmer County trailed 46-36, but the Titans connected on their first four shots from the floor to start the period, including a pair of 3-pointers from Cunningham.

The Gilmer County shooters then went ice cold and managed just a putback by Zach Chapman as Williamstown survived the Titans’ push and led 64-48 at the 1:09 mark.

“The guys weathered the storm and didn’t panic,” Sauro said. “Tonight’s win feels great because we have lost a lot of close ones.”

Gilmer County’s next test arrives Saturday night in Spencer at Roane County High School when it meets Parkersburg Catholic in the championship game of the Little Kanawha Conference’s Night of Champions. The Titans have one victory against the Crusaders to their credit.

“Obviously we have a war in front of us on Saturday with Parkersburg Catholic,” Shuff said. “There are a lot of implications on that one. That game could be for all the marbles in terms of the No. 1 seed.”