Seniors lead Williamsport over West Scranton

On Senior Night, in the last home game of the regular season, it was fitting that the Williamsport Millionaires were keyed by their three of upperclassman. Guards Marcus Simmons and Ethan Williams, and center Isaac Ritter did not dominate, but each made momentum-grabbing plays in Friday night’s, 58-49, boys basketball triumph over the West Scranton Invaders.

With a record of 7-12, there have been several outings where Allen Taylor’s squad has had victory in its reach, but were unable to grab hold. Against West Scranton, the Millionaires forged a lead early and made certain, through grit, tenacity, and good decisions, that this win was not about to get away.

“Starting with around 3:37 left in the game, we did a better job burning the clock,” said Taylor. “From that point, we were playing against the clock, not West Scranton.”

A burst of offense from the Invaders (6-16) in the middle of the fourth quarter, turned a solid double-digit advantage, a bit uncomfortable for the Cherry and White faithful. After Nassir Jones swatted a layup attempt by West Scranton’s Cayden Merrifield (team-high 15 points), and started a fast break that resulted in a bucket for Ethan Williams (10 points), Williamsport was on top, 54-45, with 3:31 remaining. Less than a minute later, Taylor called timeout. During the break, he directed his charges to, “Spread the floor, move the ball, and get open,” against the Invaders’ trapping defense.

Williamsport handled the pressure by putting the ball in the experienced hands of Simmons, Williams, and junior guard Ahmir Ellzy (game-high 20 points). The Millionaires were able to run out the clock on West Scranton, by displaying the type of poise that Taylor has been looking for all season.

“We showed the discipline needed to win games against quality opponents,” Taylor said. “When we do things the right way we get into position to get wins. If we would have made better decisions throughout the season, our record would be a lot different. Our main focus has been that the season is a not a sprint. This is marathon, and in the fourth quarter of this game, we had to keep our composure and that is how we won the game.”

Both teams were sluggish in the third quarter, totaling just 20 points between them, but Williamsport continued to hold the lead. Entering the fourth quarter up 48-34, the backcourt trio of Simmons, Williams, and Ellzy weaved the ball around the outstretch arms of the West Scranton defense. Patience and crisp passing used up valuable seconds. Even though there were not many tallies coming at the end of the Millionaire possessions, time worked against the Invaders.

West Scranton (49)

Lewin Fernandez 10-0 2, Cayden Merrifield 6 0-0-15, Nick Giola 6 3-4 15, Nick Forsette 2 0-0 4, Jalen Gregory 1 1-2 3, Brandon Barnes 5 0-0 10, Ryan Bresser 0 0-0 0, Brennan Burnside 0 0-0 0, Danny Keeler 0 0-0, Austin Lewis 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 4-6-49.

WILLIAMSPORT (58)

Ethan Williams 4 0-0 10, Marcus Simmons 1 4-5 6, Nassir Jones 2 2-2 6, Isaac Ritter 2 0-0 5, Ahmir Ellzy 9 1-1 20, Conner Nyman 1 0-0 3, Ry’meer Brown 4 0-2 8, Cole Johnson 0 0-0 0, James Evans-McQuay 0 0-0 0, Tyler Fausnaught 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 7-10 58.

West Scranton 11 15 8 15-49

Williamsport 16 20 12 10-58

3-point goals: West Scranton 3 (Merrifield); Williamsport 5 (Williams 2, Ellzy, Ritter, Nyman).

JV score: Williamsport, 59-50. High scorer: McQuay, W, 14.

Records: Williamsport (8-12), West Scranton (6-16).

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