Millionaire boys drop possible playoff preview

Size outmatched speed in the early matchup between a long and tall Hazleton team and the smaller, shiftier Millionaires in the Magic Dome Saturday night.

It was a game similar to the one played last year between these familiar foes, and was a good measuring stick for Williamsport last year before adjusting to beat the Cougars in the District 2-4 playoffs.

And it will prove again to be another measuring stick this year if each team gets back to the district finals. Hazleton utilized its size to keep Williamsport at a distance from the opening whistle en route to a 68-47 victory.

“Anytime (Hazleton) could put out guys that are 6-2, 6-5, or 6-8, it’s going to be tough for my guys to guard.” Williamsport coach, Allen Taylor said.

The Cougars’ 6-foot-8 center Josh Sameco started the scoring with 10 of Hazleton’s 19 first quarter points, often settling under the rim waiting patiently for the offensive rebounds.

“We wanted to pressure them, keep them off the boards, keep them off balance,” Taylor said. “I know what coach (Michael) Joseph does with his players and know what they are capable of doing on the floor and they executed it.”

Williamsport just did not have an answer for Hazleton’s offense, and the Cougars were able to get good ball movement, open shots, and the size difference created easy rebound opportunities making it tough on the Millionaires to get within striking distance to take the lead trailing by as many as 19 at the half.

Al-Tamar Jason led the Millionaires offensively with 14 points, getting an assist from Marcus Simmons under the net in the opening score just two minutes into the game. Kieth Jason followed that up with a steal at half court and made the easy breakaway layup in what seemed like a momentum building moment, before Hazleton quickly got the ball in the hands of Sameco in the corner for a three that dampened the energy from the stands and players.

“We didn’t have any three-point attempts in the first half and it is tough to manufacture points in the paint or at the (free-throw) line against the taller teams,” Taylor said.

The Cougars made Williamsport’s night tough, often using its length to get in the passing lanes and kept passes and shots very uncomfortable for the Millionaires to get much offensive momentum.

“I was disappointed most on the way we competed, although Marcus (Simmons) and Jason were able to attack and find success, but that’s just two guys.” Taylor said. “This was a good test for us early on, to see where we are at. There were a lot of self-inflicting mistakes that are able to be corrected going forward in these next 13 games for when the playoffs roll around.”

H (68)

Josh Sameco 6 4-7 18; Andrew Vayda 0 0-0 0; Ryan Wolk 1 0-0 2; Jeff Planutis 5 3-3 13; Alex D’Angelo 0 0-0 0; Kyle Franek 1 0-1 2; Joe Grula 6 1-3 13; Jecxander Moronta 0 0-0 0; Adrian Oterc 2 0-0 4; Scott Shamany 0 0-0 0; Nikolas Norman 0 0-0 0; Ramddy Melendez 0 0-0 0; Da’mir Faison 4 5-5 14; Warren Seigendall 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 13-19 68.

W (47)

Ahmir Ellzy 1 0-0 2; Nassir Jones 2 1-2 5; Keith Jason 0 0-0 0; Marcus Simmons 3 2-2 8; Ethan Willliams 3 2-2 8; Al-Tamar Jason 5 4-5 14; Jayson Bannerman 1 0-0 2; Darryl Wilson 0 2-2 2; Eric Smith 0 1-2 1; Tyler McCann 1 0-0 2; D’Angelo Strachon 1 1-3 3. Totals 17 13-18 47.

Hazleton 19 18 18 13–68

Williamsport 7 13 14 13–47

3-Point goals: H 3 (Samec 2, Faison), W 0.

JV score: H 78, W 61. Top scorer: W–Ra’Jahn Slaughter 13.

Record: W (5-4).

Next game: Pottsville at Williamsport, Saturday