Fans who arrived at Williamsport's home opener against Crestwood a little early might have thought they were late.
The Williamsport fans must have been puzzled as they watched Allen Taylor on the bench shouting directions at his players. The players might have looked a tad undersized, as well.
Taylor, playing the role of concerned friend as opposed to head coach, filled in for junior varsity head coach Jeremiah Washington, who was absent due to a sick baby at home.
Taylor's passion to coach was on full display in both the junior varsity and varsity contests as his energy levels never wavered.
His varsity players were just as energetic as they had two 15-point performances, a 14-point performance, forced 18 turnovers and defeated Crestwood, 72-49, at the Magic Dome. It was Williamsport's third consecutive win to open the season.
"I was coaching JV because it was an emergency and he needed to be with the family," Taylor said. "Everything's fine, though."
Taylor ducked out for the final few minutes of the junior varsity game as clock problems gave him a few extra seconds to speak with the varsity team prior to taking the court.
Neither Taylor nor the rest of the Millionaires (3-0) seemed sapped of energy as they opened on a run.
Williamsport forced eight first-quarter turnovers, with Isaiah Washington adding two steals and highlighting the quarter with a two-handed dunk. Despite a defender sitting directly under the hoop, Washington was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim. It was his second technical in as many games.
"It was just a mistake," Washington said. "It was the second game in row I got a tech. I have to play smart. If I don't get that technical I'm not in foul trouble in the first half."
Williamsport was forced to put Washington and Jahad Thomas on the bench in the second quarter with two fouls apiece. Despite being on the bench for most of the second quarter, both players managed to score 15 points.
With the Millionaires top scorers on the bench, Navy-bound Chris Kinley took control of the second quarter. Kinley hit three of five shots from the field and pulled down four rebounds. The big senior also hit two of three free throws en route to finishing with 14 points.
"Chris is going to be a key to our success during the regular season and the posteason," Taylor said. "He's going to be someone we need to get the ball inside to and he's going to have to be able to come through for us. He's going to have to be that physical guy in the paint."
Kinley struggled a bit with Crestwood's Chris Fazzini, who posted a game-high 23 points. Fazzini helped the Comets get back into the game after a slow first half, posting 10 of his 23 points in the third quarter.
"We knew Fazzini was going to come in and try to put up numbers," Taylor said. "We held him in check in the first half for the most part. Then in the third he got free a few times and was able to get some easy buckets."
As Fazzini stepped up his efforts to get his team back in the game, Herb Stelly provided a much needed momentum-killing surge to closeout the third quarter.
Stelly hit two free throws and field goal before intercepting an inbound pass and converting a layup as time expired. Crestwood was called for a foul on the play and Stelly completed the 3-point play to end the third up 48-36.
"Williamsport has a tradition of being a fast-paced team both defensively and offensively," Washington said. "Defensively we like to turn it up and press all the time. We just like to keep it high-energy all the time."
Stelly also earned an assist in the quarter when he hit a charging Washington for an ally-opp dunk. The slam sparked the home crowd back to life and ended a 13-4 run by the Comets (1-1). After the play, Stelly helped Williamsport close out the quarter with eight consecutive points.
"The first home game is always exciting," Washington said.
Brady Gallagher 4 5-6 14; Brian Markowski 1 2-4 4; Steve Roberts 3 0-0 6; Chris Fazzini 10 2-3 23; Robbie Hopkins 0 0-1 0; Jason Dotzel 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 9-14 49.
Jahad Thomas 7 1-3 15; Herb Stelly 2 5-5 9; Tyler Gardner 1 0-0 2; Thomas Ross 3 0-0 7; Isaiah Washington 5 3-6 15; Achilles Watson 3 1-4 7; Brandon Fedoriw 1 0-0 3; Chris Kinley 6 2-3 14. Totals 28 12-21 72.
Crestwood 10 10 14 15-49
Williamsport 13 16 19 24-72
3-point goals: Crestwood-2 (Gallagher, Fazzini). Williamsport-4 (Washington 2, Fedoriw, Ross).
Records: Williamsport 3-0.
Next: GAR Memorial at Williamsport, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
JV score: Williamsport, 66-25.
High scorers: Williamsport, Tyler Gardner, 12. Crestwood, Jason Dotzel, 8.