BERWICK Williamsport's Jahad Thomas rarely needs a break during a 32-minute game, but on Wednesday night he was forced to take one. The senior picked up a second foul with 4:01 remaining in the first quarter, leaving him as an antsy spectator for the remaining 12 minutes of the first half.
The added break only aided Thomas when the Millionaires needed him the most.
The senior delivered all 16 of his points in the second half and he helped close a 68-58 victory that gave Williamsport the District 2-4 Class AAAA title over Scranton at Berwick Middle School.
Williamsport’s Achilles Watson, left, Jahad Thomas, middle, and Greg Ousley pose with their gold medals after beating Scranton Wednesday in Berwick. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"It was harsh for me to get into foul trouble," Thomas said, "but just knowing my team was down it made me want to play more and more and made me play harder."
The Millionaires (22-2) will have several days to rest until they start the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs against the third-place team from District 11 on March 9 at a time and place to be determined.
Williamsport faced the potential for a longer layoff after it trailed Scranton, 43-40, entering the fourth quarter, but an Isaiah Washington 3-pointer quickly erased the deficit and Thomas scored the next eight Williamsport points to help the Millionaires take a 51-48 lead that it never surrendered.
"I was definitely hungry for that ball," Thomas said, "because I didn't want that to be my last game."
"Jahad has done that (coming up big in second half) all season," Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. "He has gotten himself in foul trouble where he might have scored two points or zero in the first half and then come out and score 14 or 16. If he could just give that same kind of effort without getting into foul trouble, oh my goodness, there is no reason he shouldn't be a first-team all-stater the way he has performed against the level of competition we've faced."
Thomas combined with Washington and Chris Kinley to score 52 of Williamsport's 68 points. Achilles Watson added nine important points in the second half, including two off an offensive rebound after a Thomas missed free throw midway through the fourth quarter.
With Thomas and Stelly stuck on the bench with their first-half foul trouble, Kinley stepped up offensively and kept the Millionaires within a point at the half.
Kinley used his 6-foot-6 frame and wide shoulders to obtain post position against Scranton's interior defense. The senior often had multiple defenders surrounding him as Scranton sagged off certain Williamsport shooters in its zone defense, but it didn't matter, as Kinley strongly collected entry passes and went up strong. He finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in the first half as Williamsport trailed 30-29.
"Jahad told me to just hold the game before he could come in because he was in foul trouble," Kinley said. "I wanted to get right at them and once I started scoring I wanted them to give me the ball."
Scranton's Karlon Quiller led all scorers at the half with 21 points. The senior guard spent the majority of the first half blowing past Williamsport's perimeters defenders and those drives led to 15 foul shot attempts and put several Millionaires in foul trouble, including reserve guard Brice Harris who played extended first-half minutes because of Stelly's foul trouble.
"His 21 points in the first half came from us not executing the game plan and forgetting what the personnel was all about," Taylor said. "We put (Washington) on him in the second half because we knew a change of length and athletic ability would bother him."
The minutes played by Harris and Greg Ousley allowed Taylor to sit Thomas and Stelly the entire second quarter and have them fresh for the start of the second half.
A well-rested Thomas came out in the second half and helped lead an 8-0 Williamsport run to give it a 37-30 lead. The spurt caused Scranton to use a pair of timeouts, the second coming with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
Before Williamsport could run and hide, though, the Knights responded with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 39-39. Scranton didn't stop there as it built a 43-40 lead entering the final quarter.
Quiller added five more points in the third quarter and had 26 entering the fourth. He didn't score again, however.
"(Washington's) defense was very big," Thomas said. "I actually told coach Taylor to make that adjustment because I know Isaiah's mentality and that he was going to go out there and compete."
Washington, who is listed at 6-4, shut out Quiller with the help of his teammates in the fourth quarter and Williamsport was finally able to pull away over the final couple of minutes.
A pair of Stelly free throws made it 61-52 with 1:42 left and the Millionaires weren't threatened the rest of the way.
Karlon Quiller 7 11-15 26, Corey White 7 2-2 18, Andrew Moran 1 4-4 6, Phil Ash 1 0-0 2, Jake McCarthy 1 0-0 2, Matt Redetzky 1 0-0 2, Eric McCabe 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 17-21 58.
Jahad Thomas 7 2-3 16, Isaiah Washington 4 8-11 18, Chris Kinley 7 4-6 18, Achilles Watson 4 1-3 9, Herb Stelly 0 2-2 2, Brandon Fedoriw 0 0-0 0, Brice Harris 0 0-0 0, Tyler Gardner 0 0-0 0, Greg Ousley 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 17-25 68.
Scranton15 15 13 15 58
Williamsport9 20 11 28 68
3-point goals: Scranton 3 (White 2, Quiller); Williamsport 3 (Washington 2, Ross).
Records: Williamsport 22-2, Scranton 19-6.