Evans-McQuay scores 19 in Williamsport’s 70-64 win against Troy
Xavier Taylor dove across the floor and made the steal before whipping a pass toward Al-Kabeer Jason who converted a layup. The basket did not count because Williamsport called timeout as it tried maintaining possession, but it told the story.
Taylor does not really care if he scores. But he sure likes slowing others down and on a night when nobody else could slow dynamic Troy point guard Ty Barrett, Taylor could. The junior reserve changed the game’s complexion with his defense on Barrett in the middle quarters Saturday night against the visiting Trojans and made five steals as Williamsport won a highly-entertaining game, 70-64.
James Evans-McQuay scored 19 points and 10 players scored as the Millionaires (3-1) won their second straight. Had Taylor not held Barrett to 11 of his 35 points when guarding him the outcome likely would have been different.
“I know my job when I’m on the court and I let my teammates score the buckets and I play the defense,” Taylor said. “I’m a huge fan of that role. It puts pressure on me to do my job and it really helps the team out and gets me going, being able to stop a guy.”
Taylor really had Williamsport going in the second quarter when he played a major role in forcing nine Troy turnovers as the Millionaires took a 30-29 halftime lead they never relinquished. Troy (5-1) led 21-18 after a quarter, but Taylor limited Barrett to just two points while guarding him in the first half and Williamsport started asserting control.
It remained that way in the third quarter when Taylor made two more steals and surrendered just one basket when defending Barrett. Williamsport stretched the lead to six after three quarters and two Taylor assists had it up 57-45 with 5 minutes, 45 seconds remaining. Barrett had more screens set for him and was a force in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 points, but Taylor was able to force a difficult 3-point shot that Barrett missed when it was 65-59 late and Tyler Fausnaught clinched the victory with four straight clutch free throws.
“I had to watch his waist and stay down and slide. I’ve been doing that since I was little and just applied it to my game now,” Taylor said. “Coming in I just want to help any way I can. It doesn’t matter if we start or come off the bench we just want to get a W.”
Evans-McQuay was to Williamsport’s offense what Taylor was to the defense and helped secure that win. The explosive senior guard scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half when he made 8 of his 10 shots. McQuay also saw the court well and set up some inside baskets for Nassir Jones (13 points, 6 rebounds) and JJ Beagle who produced 6 points and 9 rebounds off the bench.
A year after enjoying a breakout junior season, Evans-McQuay is becoming one of District 4’s premier guards. He has scored 45 points in consecutive Saturday games, coming up big in the second half each time.
“It’s not even me, it’s the whole team coming together,” Evans-McQuay said. We’re learning how to play with each other.”
“He’s a get downhill player. He can definitely get down hill,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. “James definitely is a scorer. He has a scorer mentality. He’s not the best shooter, he can just make the shot. That’s what he does, he makes shots.”
Williamsport made a lot of its shots in the second half, going 15 of 24 from the field. The Millionaires also executed well against Troy’s first-half defense and effectively worked the ball inside with Jones and Beagle combining for 13 first-half points.
Jason played a quality all-around game with 9 points, 4 assists and 2 steals and Fausnaught dealt a game-high 7 assists. The bench played a critical role all night with Taylor and Nayim Connelly-Ali setting an energetic tone with their hustle and defense.
“We’re becoming more like a family,” Evans-McQuay said. “We’re starting to learn each other and how we play together in the game so we’re all coming together.”
A night after playing rival Canton, Troy never wilted against Williamsport and Barrett’s 3-pointer with Taylor’s hand in his face made it a 6-point game with two minutes remaining. Troy had two chances to pull closer, but Taylor forced difficult shots each time which helped seal the victory.
Williamsport rushed some shots throughout the fourth quarter after building a 12-point lead and it missed several first-half opportunities to build a bigger lead. Still, the Millionaires are learning while winning and in such a chaotic season while working in several first-time contributors that certainly is a positive.
“I just have to keep reminding myself we didn’t have time to do things so this is still like the preseason. And we have a lot of new guys out there that have to play in crunch time. To be 3-1, we’ll take it,” Allen Taylor said. “Everyone that came in contributed. As long as you come in and make a contribution and give max effort that’s all we ask.”
Ty Barrett 13 5-8 35, Ethan Van Noy 3 1-1 9, Jake Deitrick 4 0-0 8, Nick Williams 1 2-2 5, Mason Imbt 2 0-2 4, Zeb Oldroyd 1 0-0 3. Totals 24 8-13 64.
James Evans McQuay 9 1-3 19, Nassir Jones 5 3-4 13, Tyler Fausnaught 0 4-7 4, Eliah Frierson 1 5-6 7, Ry’meer Brown 1 0-0 2, Xavier Taylor 2 0-0 4, Nayim Connelly-Ali 2 2-4 6, Jeffrey Beagle 3 0-1 6, Al-Kabeer Jason 4 0-0 9, Jamile Harden 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 15-25 70.
Troy 21 8 12 23-64
Williamsport 18 12 17 23-70
3-pointers: Troy 8 (Barrett 4, Van Noy 2, Williams, Oldroyd); Williamsport 1 (Jason).
Records: Williamsport (3-1), Troy (5-1).