Dominating Defense

WILLIAMSTOWN – Three quarters of suffocating defense catapulted Williamstown to a 64-51 victory against St. Marys on Friday night.

The Blue Devils entered the contest averaging 75.5 points in their two wins to start the season, but they were nowhere in the neighborhood after falling behind 48-27 following Chandler Weber’s fadeaway jumper just as time expired in the third period.

Weber led all scorers with 21 points, while teammate Landon Travis added 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds for a Williamstown outfit that improved to 3-0 and 2-0 in the North Division of the Little Kanawha Conference.

“I was really proud of our defensive effort tonight,” Williamstown coach Scott Sauro said. “Last year, defense was where we were lacking and in the first half tonight our defense was outstanding.

“For us to have that kind of defensive effort, we were really happy with that.”

Despite getting doubled-up on the scoreboard on several occasions midway in the third quarter, St. Marys didn’t go away quietly. The Blue Devils made their first six shots from the floor in the fourth quarter, and when they missed their first attempt Wesley Bayless was working the boards for a putback to slice the gap to 58-46.

Another putback, this time by Coleman Lamp, narrowed the margin to 60-50 with two minutes showing but the Blue Devils could pull no closer.

“We played hard clear to the end,” St. Marys coach Mark Barnhart said. “In the first half, I thought we were a little tentative. Williamstown was too much on defense for us and it took us out of our offense. It was a dominating first half by Williamstown – they did a nice job.”

After a first quarter that witnessed four lead changes, Williamstown began to assert itself offensively. In the first three minutes of the second quarter, the Yellowjackets outscored St. Marys 7-1 and took an 18-11 lead.

With St. Marys hanging around at 20-15, the Yellowjackets used a 10-3 surge in the final 2:46 to leave the Blue Devils trailing 30-18 at intermission.

Responsible for much of Williamstown’s success on the offensive end of the floor was Weber, who had a hand in the team’s final eight points of the first half – including a 3-pointer from the right baseline with six seconds showing on the clock.

Following the halftime break, Williamstown continued right where it left off as Weber, who also pulled down six boards, had two putbacks as part of a 10-2 run that gave the Yellowjackets a 40-20 cushion.

“Chandler has really worked hard at his game,” Sauro said. “He is not at all the same player that he was last year. Last year, he was a standstill shooter. Now, he can score in many different ways.”

Williamstown made just seven shots from the floor in the second half, but took advantage of the free-throw line by making 29-of-39 (74 percent) for the night.

“Every single day we try to make free throw shooting competitive,” Sauro said. “As a team, if they don’t shoot 75 percent they all run.”

Dylan Hupp led St. Marys (2-1, 1-1 LKC North) with 16 points, while Jessy Moore pitched in 13 points before fouling out midway in the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils won’t play again for nearly two weeks when St. Marys hosts Doddridge County on Jan. 2.

“Williamstown is the most skilled team we have played to this point – they played a nice complete game,” Barnhart said. “As for us, we have a lot to work on. We have a long ways to go as a basketball team.”