Williamsport forward Achilles Watson asks coach Allen Taylor the same question every game.
"Who's the man?" he inquires.
Watson is not asking rhetorically and he is not looking for praise. He simply wants to know who the opponent's best player is because he wants to guard him. Watson knows his role and he embraces it.
Achilles Watson of Williamsport steals the ball from Charles Cox of Westinghouse in the second quarter Saturday at Williamsport.
He excels at it too. Watson might not light up the scoring sheet, but he does all the little things that are necessary to win and Williamsport is thriving with him in the lineup. Watson scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds, dealt three assists, blocked two shots and made two steals Saturday as Williamsport hammered visiting Westinghouse, 81-44. All five starters scored in double figures and the Millionaires improved to 5-0 for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
"I'm having so much fun. It was a great night," Watson said. "I like this role more than scoring. Playing off the bench last year helped me get up to the speed of the game and I've learned to play better."
It is showing. Jahad Thomas is a reigning all-state player and Isaiah Washington and Chris Kinley have earned Division I scholarships. Williamsport is loaded with scorers, but it needs a defensive stopper who crashes the boards and can help in all areas. Watson is that player.
Williamsport never trailed last night, but Westinghouse was making a big second-quarter run before Watson made a nice inside pass to Tyler Gardner with 44 seconds remaining. That sparked a 6-0 run that put the Millionaires up 35-20 at halftime. Watson then started the second half with an assist to Washington and scored inside off a Thomas assist, making it 43-20. A putback, a block and a rebound that led to a fast-break basket was part of a first-quarter run as well, highlighting all the qualities Watson provides.
"Achilles is doing an outstanding job on the boards and he is being very selfless. He is sacrificing himself for the good of the team by taking on the team's top scorer every game," Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. "He knows he has to exert a lot of energy on defense but that he has his teammates to pick up the slack on offense. And just by him doing his role he is getting his points because he's crashing the boards and getting those putbacks."
All the Millionaires are flourishing in their roles and it showed as they hit 54 percent of their shots and played stifling defense while efficiently and unselfishly moving the basketball. Thomas scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dealt five assists and made five steals while Washington had 16 points, five assists and three steals. Kinley was a force inside with 12 points and 15 rebounds, while point guard Herb Stelly brilliantly ran the offense and scored 11 points while adding six assists.
Williamsport played about as well as a team can in the fourth quarter, outscoring Westinghouse, 27-8. The Millionaires made 10 of their 14 shots and opened the quarter on a 16-0 run. Williamsport players consistently worked for good shots and rarely put up bad ones, finishing with 23 assists.
"That (unselfishness) shows the kind of character we have and the kind of players and we are and shows how well we want to play for Coach," Watson said. "The more we play together the better we get, but there is always more to learn and there is more we can improve on."
"That's what we look for. We look to see everyone moving the ball and sharing the ball," Taylor said. "They did a great job looking for each other. We knew when they extended their defense the backdoor cuts were going to be there and it just about worked to perfection. They were making good passes and finishing strong."
Stelly found Washington for an alley-oop on Williamsport's second possession and set the tone for his night. The senior point guard seems to be getting better every time he plays. He was a defensive ace last year and still is, but he also is becoming an offensive weapon and is doing an excellent job finding open players while also providing some scoring punch.
"Herb has always played point guard and last year he kind of finally came out of his shell," Watson said. "Now he is kind of exploding."
So far, so his the whole team.
Robery Bailey 6 0-012, Dasonte White 0 2-2 2, Aaron Lyons 2 0-0 5, Shaquan Johnson 10 4-9 25, Charles Cox 0 0-0 0, Kahlil Morris 0 0-0 0, Steffon Naylor 0 0-0 0, Affani Brown 0 0-0 0, Totals 18 6-11 44
Jahad Thomas 10 3-5 23, Herb Stelly 5 1-2 12, Tyler Gardner 2 2-3 6, Brice Harris 0 0-0 0, Thomas Roth 1 0-0 2, Isaiah Washington 6 4-4 16, Achilles Watson 5 0-2 10, Brandon Fedoriw 0 0-0 0, Chris Kinley 6 0-1 12, Nadir Boone 0 0-0 0. Totals 35 10-17 81
Westinghouse 07 13 16 08 - 44
Williamsport 15 20 19 27 - 81
3-point goals: Westinghouse 2(Lyons, Johnson ); Williamsport 1 (Stelly).
Records: Williamsport 5-0, Westinghouse 1-4
Next Game: Williamsport at Pottsville on Tuesday, Dec. 18