Jones’ early spurt keys Williamsport
Within the first two minutes Monday night, Williamsport’s Nassir Jones drove through the lane and had a strong finish for two. He then assisted on an Ahmir Ellzy driving layup, and drew a shooting foul on the next drive hitting one to give the Millionaires a five-point lead to begin the game against Danville.
Coming off a big win over Hollidaysburg, the Millionaires (5-10) played loose for the first time in weeks and were able to spread the ball around to find the open man. Seven players added to the point total and three players scored in double figures in their 59-43 win over Danville inside the Magic Dome.
Johnson recorded his tenth double-digit effort in 11 games, leading the Millionaires with 19 points, five rebounds and two steals. He helped the Millionaires open the game with six points in the first quarter. Ellzy scored five of his 11 points and a Cole Johnson 3 pushed Williamsport to a 14-10 lead after Danville made it a one-possession game when Jagger Dressler drained a 3 to make it 12-10 with a minute left in the quarter.
That would be the last time Danville was in striking distance.
Williamsport went on a 6-0 run to begin the second quarter and built a 20-10 lead. Johnson hit a layup in traffic, James Evans-McQuay stole the ball on the next series and turned it into a fastbreak bucket. Danville stopped the run with a Dante Harward 3 before Al-Kabeer Jason nailed a jumper and Kenon Brown drove hard for a layup as the halftime buzzer sounded for a 24-17 lead.
“I was pleased with our effort. At times we stayed patient on the offensive side to move the ball around and work for the open shots we want rather that settling for jump shots,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. “It gives us a better chance and everybody is in the game getting a chance to move the ball with energy and enthusiasm.”
Williamsport continued to shut down Danville in the second half as the Millionaires forced 14 turnovers. They also did not allow Danville to get within five points. And with each fastbreak basket, they brought energy to the bench.
The Ironmen frustration boiled over late in the third quarter as Harward was issued a technical foul. Jones hit 1 of 2 free throws and stole the ball on the next drive, fed it to Johnson and Williamsport went on another 10-2 run to end the quarter leading, 38-25.
“We just wanted to work harder than (Danville’s) defense that they were giving us tonight,” Jones said.
Jones hit a layup after a Johnson steal on the following possession which prompted a furious timeout from Danville coach Lenny Smith to recollect his team after the previous three possessions.
“We got after it defensively and were able to force some turnovers that generated offense for us that allowed us to get out in transition,” Taylor said. “It helps when we can create turnovers, get rebounds and get the easy buckets, then (Danville) couldn’t dictate the game defensively.”
Williamsport leaned on Jones with 13 points in the second half before being pulled with four minutes remaining in the game.
“That’s what we want to do, but sometimes we forget about his abilities. He has the size, he’s a pretty strong kid and I’d like to see him want to play in the post more. He can play off the dribble and has a good shot outside,” Taylor said.
Williamsport 59, Danville 43
Mavin James 2 1-1 6; Jack Smith 2 2-2 6; KJ Riley 3 0-0 7; Jagger Dressler 3 2-2 11; Dante Harward 3 2-2 9; Brady Hill 0 0-2 0; Connor Kozick 2 0-0 4. Totals 15 7-11 43.
Ahmir Ellzy 3 4-4 11; Nassir Jones 9 1-2 19; James Evans-McQuay 2 0-0 4; Al-Kabeer Jason 4 2-3 10; Kenon Brown 2 0-0 4; Xavier Taylor 2 0-0 5; Cole Johnson 2 0-0 5. Totals 24 4-8 59.
Danville 10 7 10 16–43
Williamsport 14 10 18 17–59
3-point goals: Danville 6 (Dressler 3, James, Riley, Harward), Williamsport 3 (Ellzy, Brown, Johnson).
JV game: Danville, 68-58, OT. Top scorer: Kenon Brown, W, 22.
Record: Williamsport (5-10). Next: Williamsport vs. Loyalsock at Lycoming College, Saturday, 8 p.m.