Millionaires roll past Bulldogs behind big night from Qayyim Ali
Qayyim Ali can instantly raise the Williamsport gym decibel level as he throws down thunderous dunks and makes emphatic blocks.
He did both Monday night against Jersey Shore. But the most impressive aspects of his performance last night were the mid-range jumpers Ali hit. Or the pin-point passes he made. Or the way he grabbed rebounds, then smoothly went coast-to-coast.
Ali was an excellent athlete playing basketball last year. Now he is simply an excellent basketball player. Ali proved that again vs. Jersey Shore, scoring 17 points, grabbing nine rebounds, dealing five assists and making four steals in less than three quarters as Williamsport easily won, 80-48.
“This summer I was pretty much in the gym a lot with my group of friends playing basketball,” Ali said. “I’ve become more comfortable with other parts of my game than I was last year.”
“Q played well within himself. He stayed under control and hit some nice mid-range jump shots and had some assists,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. “You can always count on his effort defensively and rebounding and he did more of the same tonight. When he plays that way he’s a phenomenal athlete who is developing his skill set.”
Stanley Scott, who reached 1,000 career points Saturday, scored 22 points and dealt seven assists. Six Millionaires scored less than five minutes into the game and Williamsport (12-4) won its fifth straight game.
Ali was one who set the tone early and often. The senior forward delivered 11 first-quarter points, five rebounds and two steals as Williamsport built a 31-12 lead that was never threatened. It was a performance similar to the one Ali has delivered all season. The 6-foot-2 forward plays like he’s 6-10 and is nearly averaging a double-double. He also has 11 steals the past two games.
What Taylor especially liked about Ali’s performance Monday was how he stayed under control. Ali is an explosive player who often is one of, if not the fastest, player on the court. Sometimes that has Ali rushing things, but that was not the case against Jersey Shore. Ali channeled his inner John Wooden and was quick, but not in a hurry. The result was one of his most complete games this season.
“Sometimes he’s in a hurry and turns the ball over or gets an offensive foul,” Taylor said. “Tonight he had one of his better games as far as staying under control within the structure of our offense and defense.”
“The main thing I worked on this summer was shooting. I’m not the strongest dribbler but I can put the ball on the floor and not give it up,” Ali said. “I knew the only way I could help open the floor is if I was able to make people come out and play me a little bit more than they usually do.”
Jersey Shore (3-11) hung tough through the game’s first four minutes, but a 10-0 quarter-ending run that Scott capped with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer made it a 19-point game. By halftime, the Millionaires led 48-19. The Bulldogs executed well at times against Williamsport’s pressure defense but lost several unforced turnovers and looked unsettled.
The second half was a different story. Jersey Shore went on the attack, played a strong third quarter and executed well offensively. It was too late to matter in last night’s outcome, but that second-half performance could provide a springboard moving forward.
“We talked at the beginning of the game about having some confidence, not being intimidated and not backing down and attacking them instead of letting them attack us and we didn’t do it in the first half,” Jersey Shore coach Scott Munro said. “We went in at halftime and said let’s come out and compete as hard as we can and win the second half and not be intimidated. We were confident in our abilities and I know this team has ability. They just struggle some much with their confidence.”
Jersey Shore has been competitive in most games this season and can look back at last year to see how quickly things can change. The Bulldogs started 1-9 last season, but made a strong second-half push and reached the postseason. With three players averaging eight or more points per game and others like Skylar Brion (8 points) providing a spark off the bench, the Bulldogs could still emerge as a playoff darkhorse if they resemble last night’s second-half team and consistently put four quarters like those together.
“We have to figure out how to carry it on to the rest of the season. Let’s carry this effort on and we’ll be where we want to be,” Munro said. “We’ve given away too many so far but we can fight back. We’re still in the hunt. It was about this time last year that we turned it around and started waking up and figuring out what we could be and having confidence in ourselves and it worked out. Let’s hope we do that again this year.”
Williamsport made 13 of 21 first-quarter shots and really did not slow down in the second quarter. The Millionaires played efficiently and unselfishly setting up each other for high-percentage shots and hitting five first-half 3-pointers. Williamsport produced 22 first-half points in the paint and also finished with 28 assists. Each starter had multiple assists, including point guard Marcus Simmons and Rondell Carson, who had three each.
It was just the kind of performance Williamsport needed heading into a big test Thursday at home against Harrisburg.
“At the end of the day we never go in there with hung heads about someone having 10 points or 35,” Ali said. “The only thing that matters at the end of the day is the win.”
JERSEY SHORE (48)
Jake Butzler 1 1-3 3, Junior Armstrong 2 1-3 5, Mac Griswold 2 0-2 6, Luke Laubach 3 0-0 8, Jay Dincher 1 2-3 4, Skyler Brion 4 0-0 8, Cody Stetts 1 1-3 3, Jordan Boob 0 0-0 0, Darren Stetts 2 1-2 5, Nate Ewing 0 4-4 4, Luke Bischof 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 10-20 48.
Stanley Scott 8 0-0 22, Qayyim Ali 8 1-3 17, Rondell Carson 2 1-4 5, Marcus Simmons 2 0-0 6, Brian Duvall 4 0-0 9, Darryl Wilson 3 0-0 7, Al-Tamar Jason 2 0-0 4, Keith Jason 0 0-0 0, Ethen Stryker 1 0-0 2, Brandon Campbell 0 0-0 0, Elliott Walker 2 0-0 4, Eric Smith 0 0-0 0, Demetrius Santiago 2 0-0 4, Tyler McCann 0 0-0 0. Totals 34 2-7 80.
Jersey Shore 12 7 18 11–48
Williamsport 31 17 20 12–80
3-pointers: Jersey Shore 4 (Griswold 2, Laubach 2); Williamsport 6 (Scott 2, Simmons 2, Duvall, Wilson).
Records: Williamsport 12-4. Jersey Shore 3-11.
JV Score: Williamsport 60-30.
High Scorer: Stryker, W, 13; Ewing, J, 11