MILTON - In a flash, Chloe Jennings stole the ball and fed Lydia Whaley cutting along the baseline. Whaley took two steps, encountered two defenders and then made a nifty spin move before converting a layup.
It was a nice sequence that put Williamsport up 12 late in the first half Wednesday at Milton. More important was the message it sent. The present might suddenly be as bright as the future and the Millionaires are becoming a more well-rounded, dangerous team.
Whaley scored a career-high 21 points, Jennings made seven steals and dealt five assists and the Millionaires played their best game this season, throttling surging Milton, 58-29. Williamsport (4-13) outscored Milton 48-15 over the final three quarters and played well in all facets while going on runs of 16 and 13-0.
"It seemed like everything was coming together," said Jennings, who also had five points. "I think we showed how good we can be when everyone is playing together."
Aisha Evans is having a dominant season and was outstanding again, scoring a game-high 23 points, grabbing seven rebounds, making seven steals and dealing four assists. But it is the way everyone else played that is especially encouraging. Whaley was a force underneath, Jennings ran the floor well and Deidra Dunkleberger, Jaid Harsch and Amy Southard made nice impacts.
It was much more than the Evans Show and that bodes well if Williamsport builds off this performance. The Millionaires forced 36 turnovers, executed well offensively and played with a confident swagger that had been lacking.
"Every team we play has been double and triple teaming Aisha so we know what we are going to face and Lydia really stepped up and played a nice game," Williamsport coach Derek Slaughter said. "We tell her all the time she has the potential to do that and she has shown it at times and now we just need to see it every game."
Whaley struggled Saturday against Prep Charter, but reached double figures for the fifth time in six games. She sparked the offense throughout the first half and had 13 points and six rebounds by halftime. The junior forward aggressively attacked the basket, went to the foul line 12 times, and found her teammates inside as well. Whaley's play helped Williamsport go on a 16-0 second-quarter run that turned a four-point deficit into a 13-point lead.
Whaley's production and performance opened up things for Evans in the second half and the senior scored 16 points then.
"It felt good to get going early and that helped my confidence," Whaley said. "Everybody was doing a good job and I think we showed what we are capable of. I think we are better than our record says and this was a big win for us."
Jennings likely slept well last night. The promising freshman played more than 55 minutes of JV and varsity basketball. It was the best night of her young scholastic career. After scoring 30 points in a JV win, Jennings delivered a big spark off the bench, playing outstanding defense, facilitating the offense and breaking down the defense.
It might have been a coming out party for a talented player who has proven crucial in each of Williamsport's wins. Jennings was instrumental to forcing so many turnovers that led to points and helped ignite a 21-5 fourth-quarter run that broke open the game. Evans scored 10 points during that time and hit her last five shots.
"I think playing the way I did in the JV game gave me a lot of confidence and that carried over to the varsity game," Jennings said. "Scoring those points was a nice boost and I felt good coming into the game."
So did Milton which had won nine of its last 11. The Black Panthers are still tied for first in the fiercely competitive HAC-I, but barely doubled their first-quarter point total over the final three.
Emily Baker and Katelyn Gensel were bright spots for Milton. Baker hit her first five shots and scored 14 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. Gensel had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
"Williamsport is a better team than its record shows and we are a better team than we showed tonight," Milton coach Aaron Slusser said. "We have done a nice job bouncing back this season but everything that could go wrong did go wrong tonight."
Aisha Evans 9 5-7 23, Lydia Whaley 6 9-12 21, Deidra Dunkleberger 1 0-0 2, Chloe Jennings 2 1-1 5, Jaid Harsch 2 0-0 4, Amy Southard 1 0-0 3. Totals 21 15-20 58.
Emily Baker 6 2-8 14, Katelyn Gensel 4 3-5 11, Linea Brouse 0 0-0 0, Dana Kyle 1 0-0 2, Brooke Swartz 1 0-0 2, Karissa Brown 0 0-0 0, Dani Lincoln 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 5-15 29.
Williamsport10 17 10 21-58
Milton14 4 6 5-29
3-pointers: Williamsport 1 (Southard).
Records: Williamsport 4-13. Milton 9-7.
JV Score: Williamsport 54-40.
High Scorer: Jennings, W, 30