JERSEY SHORE - Williamsport basketball players barely spoke during the bus ride to Jersey Shore Monday. It was all business and stayed that way until the opening tip.
Then the fun started.
Isaiah Washington scored 21 points, Nyric Gosley played a strong all-around game and the bench was outstanding Monday as Williamsport played its most complete game this season and defeated Jersey Shore, 74-51. The Millionaires (7-8) snapped a three-game losing streak and offered a glimpse of how dangerous they could be down the stretch.
Nyric Gosley of Williamsport, left, passes as Brody Smith of Jersey Shore defends Monday night at Jersey Shore.
"We came in during warmups and everything was serious," Gosley said. "The whole ride here was serious but we knew we were going to come out and have fun. We just came out ready to play."
Williamsport played terrific, reaching a season-high in points while having four players score in double figures and five score at least nine points. The Millionaires moved the ball well, played strong defense and forced 21 turnovers over the final three quarters.
The Millionaires showed signs of progress in their last two games, taking state honorable mention Hazleton and New York power White Plains to the limit. Last night, they broke through and showed why they should not be forgotten in the hunt for a District 2-4 Class AAAA championship. A lineup that has constantly been in flux is starting to jell and the result Monday was impressive.
"We're playing guys that don't normally play and now they're starting to step up so it's really helping us in the long run," Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. "We might have lost some tough ones but I think it's really going to help us down the road."
Jersey Shore played a box-and-1 defense on Penn State-bound Washington. Instead of the defense hurting it, Williamsport made it work. Gosley, Tyler Gardner and Shadale Harman each scored 10 points and the offense executed as well as it has in weeks. Everyone was getting involved as the Millionaires displayed their best balance this year and, in turn, opened things up for Washington, who had six rebounds and three steals to go with his 21 points.
Gosley was a big difference maker, dealing six assists, grabbing five rebounds and making four steals. The sophomore point guard ignited the team's defense and had a hand in 18 of 36 first-half points as Williamsport took a nine-point lead.
"I was saying to some of my teammates in school that we just have to shake these losses off and keep moving forward," Gosley said. "I said to them that this could be a true Cinderella story in the making."
Williamsport received a huge lift from a deep bench that produced 27 points. Harman nearly had a double-double, grabbing eight rebounds while attacking the offensive glass. Shakurr Simmons played like one of the best athletes on the court too, scoring nine points and making five steals.
Simmons is a versatile player who can be a threat on both ends. He scored seven first-half points, played strong defense and made four of five shots.
"I was really glad Shakurr Simmons finally was able to have what I call his breakout game," Taylor said. "He was able to do some things that we thought he would be able to do earlier in the season. Now he's getting a better feel for what we're asking for him to do and he's becoming a lot more comfortable with the system and I'm really happy for the success he had."
Jersey Shore (7-7) played Williamsport tough and trailed by only two early in the second quarter, but Gosley ignited a 9-0 run that pushed the lead to 11. The Bulldogs never pulled closer than seven the rest of the night. Still, playing Williamsport could pay big dividends if Jersey Shore reaches districts.
"That's why we have Williamsport on the schedule, because they're a tough team," Jersey Shore coach Butch Barnhart said. "They're physical, they play aggressive defense and our kids need that and that's why we put them toward the end of the season."
Cody Confair scored 13 points for the Bulldogs while Ryan Eck had eight points and 10 rebounds. The Bulldogs still were within 12 midway through the fourth quarter before Williamsport's defense really started taking a toll and broke the game open,
Jersey Shore had its chance to make things interesting throughout the first three quarters but had trouble finishing, especially on close-range shots. The Bulldogs made just nine second-half shots and turned the ball over 14 times.
"That's been a problem all year. We just have difficulty putting ball in basket," Barnhart said. "We shoot so many shots and do so many shooting drills. The effort is always there. The kids are hustling and going to the end. I can't not be pleased about that but I can't make them put the ball in the basket."
Malik Washington was another reserve who played well for Williamsport and who seems to be benefiting from quicker than expected varsity experience. The freshman had four points and three assists off the bench and was instrumental to the Millionaires taking a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter. Jed Chestnut also played a solid game, making some good hustle plays and Greg Johnson's steal and layup gave Williamsport its biggest lead at that point, 14 in the third quarter.
Isaiah Washington 8 4-5 21, Nyric Gosley 4 0-0 10, Tyler Gardner 5 0-1 10, James Earle 1 0-0 2, Jed Chestnut 2 0-0 4, Malik Washington 1 2-2 4, Shakurr Simmons 4 0-0 9, Greg Johnson 1 0-0 2, Shadale Harman 5 0-3 10, Jerah Reeves 0 0-0 0, Stanley Scott 0 0-0 0, Nick Manzitti 0 0-2 0, Derrick Fisher 1 0-0 2. Totals 32 6-13 74.
JERSEY SHORE (51)
Zach Miller 4 0-0 8, Ryan Eck 4 0-0 8, Cody Confair 6 1-2 13, Eric Huling 3 0-0 7, Brody Smith 2 0-0 4, Jake Betzler 2 2-4 7, Nathan Bischof 0 0-0 0, Brennan Eiswerth 0 0-0 0, River Haines 1 0-1 2, Brandon Thomspon 0 1-2 1. Totals 18 4-9 51.
Williamsport17 19 15 23-74
Jersey Shore10 17 12 12-51
3-pointers: Williamsport 4 (Gosley 2, I. Washington, Simmons); Jersey Shore 2 (Huling, Betzler).
Records: Williamsport 7-8. Jersey Shore 7-7.
JV Score: Williamsport 80-49
High Scorers: Scott, W, 23; Betzler, J, 17