Williamsport struggles with possession, turnovers in home loss

IOANNIS PASHAKIS/Sun-Gazette Mifflin County’s Megan Harshbarger, left, attempts to block a shot by Williamsport’s Emily Pardee at Williamsport High School on Friday evening.

After Mifflin County deflected a lofting pass out of bounds, Williamsport coach DeMarr Wright corralled the bouncing basketball, grabbed it with two hands and with his elbows out, walked onto the court, as he calmly and quietly gave his team instructions.

Moments later, Wright finally gave up the ball and passed it to the referee. It was probably the longest Williamsport held possession all night as seconds later, the Millionaires turned the ball over and off went Mifflin County for an easy score.

It was the recurring theme all night as Williamsport turned the ball over 28 times and Mifflin County hit 23-of-28 free throws en rout to a 67-32 Huskies win Friday night at the Magic Dome.

“Sounds like a carbon copy of what happened Tuesday night against Loyalsock. How many did I have today,” Wright asked of his team’s turnovers. “We had 33 Tuesday, (28) today, I mean, you’re never going to win a basketball game doing that. You’re never going to win a basketball game tuning the ball over like that, or fouling. In the first half, almost half their points were from the free throw line. They probably ended up with 25 or 30 points from the free throw line. That’s not basketball. I don’t know what that is. But turning it over, we’re just careless with the ball. We throw passes we have no business throwing. We have people doing things with the basketball they have no business doing. You have to know your limitations and right now, we don’t know our limitations.”

Williamsport had more turnovers at halftime (17) than it did points (16) and it didn’t get much better in the second half. The turnovers weren’t deadball turnovers, either. They were in-play ones that turned into easy Mifflin County points the other way. The Huskies had 26 points in the paint, 16 of those were off steals and usually uncontested. Add in the 23 free throws, Mifflin County came away with 49 easy points that they earned with pressure and tenacity.

The turnovers weren’t the only problems for Williamsport, so was rebounding. Mifflin County had five offensive rebounds on its first two possessions and it had seven total rebounds before Williamsport grabbed its first. The Millionaires put themselves in tough defensive positions due to turnovers and second-chance opportunities. Those tough situations led to 23 made free throws for the Huskies as they knocked down an impressive 82 percent of them.

“In our half court set, if you give a team four or five opportunities at the basket and they don’t score but you foul them and they shoot the way they shoot from the free throw line, it’s a no-brainer what’s going to happen,” Wright said.

“To me, the foul line is always a game you can win, whether you’re better or worse than the team, you can win that game if you’re smart. That’s one area where I will say the kids have done a good job this year,” said Mifflin County head coach Roger Herto. “We haven’t committed silly fouls for the most part and as a team, we shoot it pretty well and that showed tonight.”

Leading Williamsport in scoring was Samiyah Little who totaled 13 points, two steals and two blocks. Jada Whaley added 10 points, three assists and two steals. Playing well and giving some energy off the bench was Emily Pardee who had four points, five rebounds and two blocks.

“I want to see improvement as the season goes on and as a coach, there’s some things that I see from people that they didn’t do before that I thought were little positive things. I look for those things but as a team we need to get better and right now, we’re not,” Wright added. “We are really struggling as a team to put it together. I have to find five that can play well together and I haven’t found it.”

Mifflin County (67)

Eleana Eckley 9 6-9 26, Hannah Aumiller 1 0-0 2, Jamie Mahigel 1 0-0 2, Rylie Rittenhouse 5 12-13 22, Molly Wagoner 2 2-2 6, Fern Silfies 0 1-2 1, Emma Yeager 0 2-2 2, Megan Harshbarger 1 0-0 2, Jenna Fleegal 0 2-2 2, Morgan Weston 0 0-0 0, Kolbi Knode 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 23-28 67.

Williamsport (32)

Jada Whaley 3 2-2 10, Samiyah Little 6 1-2 13, Shelly Floyd 0 1-2 1, Gabby Thomas 0 0-0 0, Katelyn Wilson 0 0-0 0, Fondrea McClain 0 1-2 1, Emily Pardee 2 0-0 4, Kalindi Maggs 0 0-0 0, Whitney Felix 1 0-1 2, Sophia Erb 0 1-2 1, Zareina Walker 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 6-11 32.

Mifflin County 15 19 17 16 — 67

Williamsport 8 8 11 5 — 32

3-point goals: Mifflin County 2 (Eckley 2); Williamsport 2 (Whaley 2)

JV score: Mifflin County, 43-33.

Records: Williamsport (0-6); Mifflin County (7-2).