Williamsport is seeking a third straight championship. Montoursville is seeking revenge.
And for a second straight season, both teams will meet in the Montoursville Christmas Tournament championship. Williamsport edged Wellsboro, 42-40 and Montoursville thumped Troy 56-19 Thursday at Montoursville, setting up a neighborhood rivalry championship at 6 tonight.
Williamsport defeated Montoursville in last year's championship. The Warriors (6-1) are hoping to win the tournament crown for the first time since 2006.
"It's always fun when two teams from the area play for the championship," Montoursville coach Kevin Kurtz said. "(Williamsport coach) Derek Slaughter will have his team prepared and they are a good team. We expect to see a very good team and it should be a great game."
"It's going to be fun playing against a good team like them," Williamsport standout forward Aisha Evans said. "We have to step up and work hard and hopefully we can take a step forward."
Evans is the biggest reason Williamsport (2-4) is playing in tonight's championship. She scored 16 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and made four steals in the day's opener, helping the Millionaires survive the determined, upset-minded Green Hornets.
Evans is the team's lone returning starter and played like the leader she is once again. She had been dominant in her last two games and carried Williamsport late after Wellsboro went on an 8-0 run and trimmed a nine-point deficit to 38-37 with 1:02 remaining.
First, Evans grabbed a rebound off a miss in the lane and then hit two straight foul shots. Another rebound followed on Wellsboro's next possession and Evans again sank two straight free throws and put the Millionaires ahead 42-37.
Mackenzie Marple hit a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining, making it a two-point game, but the Green Hornets (2-7) were out of timeouts and Williamsport did not have to inbound the ball. Evans scored 14 of her points in the second half and also had two fourth-quarter assists.
"I try to get us together to motivate everyone to step up and help everyone communicate," Evans said. "We had a rocky start, but maybe this will motivate everyone to get it together."
"We need Aisha to come through as our senior leader. She's our scorer, she's our rebounder and she's our leader. She's doing everything for us," Slaughter said. "We expect that from her and she keeps doing it. We just need two or three more people to step up with her."
That happened in spurts in the second half. Jaid Harsch scored four straight hustle points to put Williamsport ahead to stay in the third quarter. Freshman point guard Chloe Jennings scored five fourth-quarter points and hit a big 3-pointer, as did Deidra Dunkleberger, as Williamsport opened a nine-point lead with 3:30 remaining.
Wellsboro, which lost its fourth game by three points or fewer, made a furious rally and Marple played another strong game. The senior point guard scored 11 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter while adding eight rebounds and three assists.
"We had been off for a while so I expected us to be a little flat," Slaughter said. "Despite that it's nice to come out with a win. An ugly win is better than a good loss."
Montoursville steamrolled its way into the final, forcing 40 turnovers and holding Troy to six field goals. The Warriors (6-1) have won five straight and played a nice all-around game with starters and reserves making a big impact. Point guard Kirsten O'Malley scored 19 points, made nine steals and added six assists. The bench was strong too as Kayla Venema, Alexis Weisser and Ally Yocum combined for 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven steals.
Venema scored a career-high 10 points and was 5 of 6 from the field.
"We're a very close team. We're all very quick and we all play very well together," O'Malley said. "Everyone played really well."
Troy trailed by only three early in the second quarter, but Montoursville ended the half on 14-1 run and dominated from there. The Warriors allowed five or fewer points in each quarter and the defense was so good that Troy managed only three third-quarter shots while losing nine turnovers.
Montoursville executed its offense well and also used its defense to set up the offense as eight players scored by the third quarter. The Warriors look like a team that is capable of having the program's best season in 11 years. Weisser and Venema were key in Montoursville taking an early lead and they made a lot of hustle plays that helped Montoursville take its big first-half lead.
The Warriors made 28 steals and Marissa Hall had five of them while adding seven points, four rebounds and three assists.
"As our press goes, we go and the kids feed off it," Kurtz said. "It was a good team effort. It's fun to watch but we have to do a better job finishing."
Williamsport 42, Wellsboro 40
Mackenzie Marple 4 8-13 19, Hannah Zuchowski 1 2-3 4, Kim Acorn 1 3-4 5, Sarah Ingerick 4 3-4 11, Jada Jackson 0 0-0 0, Jordan Butters 0 0-0 0, Jesse Catherman 0 1-2 1. Totals 10 17-26 40.
Aisha Evans 3 10-17 16, Deidra Dunkleberger 2 1-2 6, Lydia Whaley 1 1-2 3, Chloe Jennings 2 2-3 7, Jaid Harsch 3 0-0 6, Myeesha Peterson 0 1-2 1, Amy Southard 0 0-0 0, Na'Sheal Walker 1 1-1 3. Totals 12 16-27 42.
Wellsboro 9 3 11 17-40
Williamsport 8 7 13 19-42
3-pointers: Wellsboro 3 (Marple 3); Williamsport 2 (Dunkleberger, Jennings).
Records: Williamsport 2-4, Wellsboro 2-7.
Montoursville 56, Troy 19
Brooke Mattocks 1 2-4 4, Vanessa Benson 4 2-3 10, Faith Ceely 1 0-0 2, Taylor Johnston 0 1-2 1, Kelsay Bristol 0 2-4 2. Totals 6 7-13 19.
Kirsten O'Malley 6 5-7 19, Carly Mill 2 0-0 4, McKenzie Ruffing 0 1-4 1, Marissa Hall 2 3-4 7, Alexis Weisser 3 0-0 7, Ally Yocum 2 0-0 4, Kayla Venema 5 0-0 10, Kelsey Stine 2 0-0 4, Nicole Weisser 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 10-15 56.
Troy 5 5 4 5-19
Montoursville 10 14 16 16-56
3-pointers: Montoursville 3 (O'Malley 2, A. Weisser).
Records: Montoursville 6-1. Troy 1-6.