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Williamsport boys basketball pulls away late over Harrisburg, remains undefeated at home

EVAN WHEATON/Sun-Gazette Williamsport junior guard George Whaley eyes the hoop and moves into the paint Monday. Whaley scored 16 points off the bench for the Millionaires.

Williamsport and Harrisburg are known for their showcase clashes on the court. Monday’s meeting between the two was no exception.

Up two points with just over two minutes to go, the Millionaires found back-to-back buckets from Elijah Frierson before a flurry of fouls brought Williamsport boys basketball to the line over and over.

Williamsport cashed in, shooting 18-for-25 at the line on the night en route to a 61-53 win at the Magic Dome to remain undefeated at home.

“It’s a big win for us. We came out expecting them to be aggressive,” Senior guard Kenon Brown said. “We caught them in transition, we like to get back, hustle and get the team running.”

Brown put up a game-high 27 points, hitting jumpers and driving for layups all night. With under four minutes to go, Brown made a pair of buckets on back-to-back possessions to pull away further.

EVAN WHEATON/Sun Gazette Williamsport senior guard Kenon Brown prepares to shoot a free throw. Brown scored a game-high 27 points in a 61-53 win over Harrisburg Monday.

“He provides senior leadership for us,” Millionaires coach Allen Taylor said on Brown. “When he wants to go out there and score, he can score. When he wants to get other guys involved, he gets other guys involved.”

Brown got his teammates involved often, and so did Frierson. During the third quarter — in which Williamsport (9-3) outscored Harrisburg (6-10) 15-9 — Frierson threw a pass in transition, which was then dumped off to Nayim Connelly-Ali for easy money at the rim.

That fluid play was the exclamation point on a 10-point scoring run for the Millionaires, who took a 33-24 lead late in the frame.

“We just had to get out and make sure we were boxing out, getting the ball out and communicating,” Brown said. “We just had to get them running because we see that in a lot of players. We run and condition, so there’s a good chance we can get them out of breath.”

The Cougars showed their fangs at the perimeter during the opening eight minutes. Three different players drained shots beyond the arc to pace Williamsport.

“We came out in the zone because (Harrisburg) didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the games I watched, so I felt we’d go out and play a little zone,” Taylor said. “They knocked down three threes in that first half, so that’s when we switched up and went back to our man.”

The changeup in the Millionaires’ defensive scheme opened up more opportunities for Williamsport rather than just limiting the Cougars. But all in all, both teams forced 15 turnovers apiece.

Defense has been a concern for the Millionaires. Williamsport previously gave up 50 points in four straight games to State College, Holy Redeemer, Pottsville and Dallas.

“Defense is our identity. We gave up 53 (points), that’s the fourth team to crack 50,” Taylor said. “We did a terrible job of containing dribble penetration, we allowed those guys to get downhill like crazy.”

While it might’ve been spotty in the first half — which the Millionaires led 23-22 — Williamsport’s defense tightened up drastically, allowing just one other 3-point shot the rest of the night as Williamsport worked the perimeter.

In the paint, the Millionaires became disruptive for the Cougars.

“We went to a scramble defense and started getting some traps and shooting some gaps,” Taylor said. “That allowed us to get some steals and get out in transition.”

George Whaley provided 16 points off the bench for the Millionaires, half of which came at the free throw line. Loyal Riley (17 points), Janye Stanley (13 points) and Karl Singleton III (11 points) all broke double-digits for Harrisburg.

On the heels of another quality home win over Coatesville Saturday, the Millionaires are having themselves a season.

“We’ve only lost three on the road,” Brown said. “It feels good to not lose at home, everybody comes out to watch us play and see how good we are as a team.”

WILLIAMSPORT (61)

Kenon Brown 9 8-9 27, Jakhi Kline 0 0-2 0, George Whaley 4 8-8 16, Xavier Taylor 2 0-0 4, Nayim Connelly-Ali 2 0-2 4, Elijah Frierson 4 1-2 9. Totals: 21 18-25 61.

HARRISBURG (53)

Karl Singleton III 4 2-4 11, Janye Stanley 3 6-6 13, Ja’Reese Balkcom 0 1-2 1, Yehseir Holmes 3 2-2 8, Loyal Riley 5 6-6 17, Shawn Lee 1 0-0 3. Totals: 16 17-20 53.

Williamsport 13 10 15 23 — 61

Harrisburg 15 7 9 22 — 53

3-pointers: Williamsport 1 (Kenon Brown), Harrisburg 4 (Karl Singelton III 1, Janye Stanley 1, Loyal Riley 1, Shawn Lee 1).

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