Williams hits Millionaire winner

Trailing for the first time since the first minute of the game, Williamsport’s Ethan Williams rallied the Millionaires for a 37-36 victory over Pottsville, draining a jump shot in the lane with 1.3 seconds left Saturday night at the Magic Dome.

“We kept playing team defense, and I tried to keep the pressure on my man,” Williams said after the hard-fought win. “In the last 10 seconds, I reminded myself that I had to keep my composure and get a good look. I was hoping to get a mid-range shot around the free throw line and that’s what I got.”

In what has become a typical Williamsport-Pottsville High School boys’ basketball game, the Millionaires (6-4) and Crimson Tide (6-2) slugged it out for 31 minutes and 50 seconds, leaving the last 10 seconds for a thrilling finish.

Williams (team-high 13 points) calmly drained his jumper after Pottsville 6-foot-7 center Ian Renninger (game-high 18 points) knocked down a jump shot of his own with 9.4 seconds showing on the clock, giving the Crimson Tide a 36-35 edge.

Williams said of his ensuing first career game-winner, “It feels fantastic!”

The teams combined for 24 points in the final quarter, with Pottsville owning a 13-11 edge. Williamsport’s largest lead in the game was five points, and the score stood at 26-23 through three quarters.

“In the second half No. 23 (Renninger) really got a lot of touches and put our guys in foul trouble,” said Williamsport coach Allen Taylor. “We had to go with some different lineups against their size, and I am glad it worked out for us in the end.”

Turnovers and foul shots were crucial for both teams. Williams­port (5-of-10 free throws) and Pottsville (4-of-15 free throws) each committed 18 turnovers and combined to go 9 for 25 from the free throw line.

“I had to remind my guys that the extra pass is important,” Taylor said. “We were trying to get to the rack and (Pottsville) did a good job of closing down the driving lanes. We did not seem to want to make the simple passes. Instead, we were trying to force things which made it difficult for us to score.”

Williamsport has played Pottsville each season since 2012, and Taylor noted that in most of those meetings, the Crimson Tide defense has held his team to under 40 points. This game was no different, as with each possession the Millionaires’ athleticism was stifled and the offense struggled to find open spaces.

Foul trouble also limited Taylor’s options against Pottsville’s size as starter Eric Smith (two points) picked up two quick fouls and D’Angelo Strachon fouled out with more than four minutes to play in the game.

“I would prefer when fouls are called when someone gets an advantage,” said Taylor. “When the touch stuff gets called it does not allow players to play. It was consistent for both teams, so during timeouts we talked about how important our assist-to-turnover ratio was and that we needed to value the basketball, because we knew we were not going to get a lot of possessions.”

Through the third and fourth quarters, Williamsport limited the number of low percentage shots taken and took better care of the ball in securing the victory. Taylor expects a similar style game in the Millionaires next outing against Hollidaysburg.

Pottsville (36)

Kevin Schenck 2 0-0 5, Mason Barnes 1 0-2 2, Eli Wood 3 2-4 9, Noah Nabholz 0 0-1 0, Aiden Stanton 0 0-0 0, Ian Renninger 8 2-8 18, Ryajn Kandrock 0 0-0 0, JR Habner 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 4-15-36.

Williamsport (37)

Nassir Jones 0 0-0 0, Keith Jason 1 2-3 4, Marcus Simmons 4 0-1 9, Ethan Williams 6 0-0 13, Al-Tamar Juson 1 3-6 5, Darryl Wilson 0 0-0 0, Eric Smith 1 0-0 2, Tyler McCann 0 0-0 0, D’Angelo Strachon 2 0-0 4. Totals 15 5-10 37.

Pottsville 9 7 7 13- 36

Williamsport 11 6 9 11- 37

3-pointers: Pottsville (2) – Schenk, Yost; Williamsport (2) -Simmons, Williams

JV Score: Pottsville 57-48

JV High Scorer: Williamsport – Nassir Jones 17; Pottsville – Kevin Schenk 22

Records: Williamsport 6-4; Pottsville 6-2

Next Game: At Hollidaysburg (Wednesday, Jan. 10)