Abington tops Millionaires in their home opener

Williamsport’s Keith Jason (3) is tripped up as he shoots between Abington Heights’ Trey Koehler and George Tinsley (10) in the second quarter at Williamsport High School on Wednesday night. (MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette)

Gone are four starters and their 1,000-plus points they combined to score a season ago. A few key players from last year’s Williamsport team returned, but sprinkled into the rotation are a few new names and faces. It’s going to take time for the new Millionaires to gel and with that, expect a few growing pains.

Williamsport struggled on defense and couldn’t find an inside touch as the Millionaires fell to Abington Heights in their home opener, 71-55, Wednesday night at the Magic Dome.

“We have a few guys that have had some significant varsity minutes with Marcus (Simmons), Al-Tamar (Jason) and Darryl (Wilson). Those guys played significant minutes for us. It wasn’t clean-up time. You would hope that those guys would be able to lead some of those younger guys or the upperclassmen that don’t have as much experience. But it seems like it’s taking a little bit longer than I would like,” said Williamsport coach Allen Taylor. “We got 19 more games to figure it out. We got Crestwood next so it doesn’t get much easier. We’ll get in the gym and see if we can’t iron out a few more wrinkles.”

Williamsport struggled against an experienced and polished Abington Heights (3-0) team that went 25-4 and reached the Class 5A state semifinals last year. Gone is the go-to scorer in Stanley Scott and the tough and talented role players in Rondell Carson, Qayyim Ali and Brian Duvall.

But lost talent or not, Williamsport can still play physical, fast, hard-nosed basketball that the program has become known for. But, according to Taylor, those aspects were missing from last night’s loss.

“Those guys were warriors and I’m trying to instill that warrior mentality in these guys,” Taylor said. “It’s been very difficult. I don’t think they quite grasp how hard those guys played. They just want to look at how athletic those guys were but not only were they athletic, they played hard and with care and to get these guys to play with that same passion and care as much as those guys. It seems to be a pretty tall task but hopefully with more film sessions and more practice sessions, they’ll understand.”

Williamsport struggled defensively as the Comets scored at least 15 points in each quarter and had many uncontested layups at the rim as discipline and communication were problems. Abington scored 42 points in the paint as it seemed to score with ease at times and everytime Williamsport looked to make a run, it was met with run by Abington. The Comets led by double-digits midway through the second quarter and the closest Williamsport got was within 12 early in the fourth, but an 11-3 Abington run increased the lead to 20.

At times, keeping the game close was Darryl Wilson and Ethan Williams. Wilson led Williamsport with 16 points, four rebounds and two assists while Williams, off the bench, added 13 points, five assists and three steals. In the second quarter when Williamsport was within eight, the two had a hand in 15 of Williamsport’s 18 points. Wilson also had a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 12 but the Millionaires could get no closer.

“He’s had a pretty good offseason. He shoots the ball well and he can do some other things,” Taylor said of Williams. “We just gotta work on the defense. That needs to improve.”

Abington Heights (71)

Jack Nealon 2 1-2 5, Trey Koehler 11 5-5 31, George Tinsley 6 3-5 15, Jackson Danzig 6 0-2 12, Mike Malone 0 0-0 0, Harry Johnson 2 0-0 4, Corey Perkins 2 0-0 4. Totals 29 9-13 71.

Williamsport (55)

Marcus Simmons 3 1-1 9, Keith Jason 0 0-0 0, Eric Smith 2 1-4 5, Al-Tamar Jason 3 0-0 6, Darryl Wilson 7 0-0 16, Ethan Williams 5 0-0 13, Ethan Stryker 2 0-0 4, Ahmir Ellzy 0 0-2 0, Tyler McCann 1 0-0 2. 55.

Abington Heights 15 24 15 17 — 71

Williamsport 6 18 15 16 — 55

3-point goals: Abington Heights 4 (Koehler 4); Williamsport 7 (Williams 3, Wilson 2, Simmons 2)

JV score: Williamsport won, 64-44

Records: Williamsport (1-2).