Williamstown Boys Basketball wins first championship since 1962
WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. (WTAP) -
The Williamstown Boys Basketball team came into the 2021 season seeking redemption after their opportunity for a state tournament run was taken away from them once the tournament was shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Once practices resumed this winter, it did not take long for head coach Scott Sauro to see that this team was made of that special stuff.
“We knew that even though we lost some guys from last year, we had a good team coming back with a lot of experience,” Sauro said. “Our senior class had a ton of experience, we even had some younger guys that we knew that we could plug in there and be productive and be competitive for us.”
Williamstown was off and running in their first four games, winning them all in blowouts.
Baylor Haught, a four year senior on the team noticed that this year’s squad was able to come together and play well quickly.
“We gelled so well this year,” Baylor said. “It was a different team from last year, and we just figured it out. We just had that edge this year. It was awesome, and just everybody worked so well, everybody trusted each other with every shot.”
In Game 5, they fell to Greenbrier West 67-66. It was not their usual defensive performance, which this team took as a wake-up call.
Garret Hill is the point guard for the team, and he believes that the loss would end up benefitting them throughout the rest of the season.
“I think that was a good loss for us,” Garret said. “It made us better as a team, closer as a team. So, after that, we really started to go and go and go. After that, we played our best basketball of the year towards the end.”
Garret was correct. Williamstown went on to win their final ten games before the state tournament began. That run included wins over Wirt County in the sectional finals, and then St. Marys in the regional finals.
Seniors like Sam Cremeans were key in that stretch run. He says that coaches believed in him to lead the team to a stellar record.
“Coach (Sauro) gives me the responsibility to be a leader on the team,” Sam said. “As a senior, I’m just really fortunate to have great coaches and great teammates along my side.”
The number one seed Yellow Jackets began the tournament with a 67-32 win over Moorefield in the quarter-finals, and then scored a 55-41 victory over Chapmanville Regional in the semi-final.
Some of the Williamstown players enjoyed having their best games on the championship stage.
“It was really fun,” said Baylor Haught. “I definitely played my best basketball towards the end of the season. It was really fun to go out there with my guys and just play my heart out.”
“It was pretty cool,” said Xavier Caruthers, a senior on the team. “I think everybody had a pretty good game up there, so everybody got to feel that.”
Williamstown stormed out to a 28-9 halftime lead over 2 seed Poca and their star player Isaac McKneely in the championship game. They held off a late run by Poca, and the Yellow Jackets won the game 50-47. Every player had similar reactions when the buzzer sounded.
“I was just running up to my teammates, just trying to find them and give each of them a hug,” Baylor said. “It was just an awesome time. I honestly don’t remember anything that happened.”
“I was like, ‘Did we just win?’” said Sam Cremeans. “Because I didn’t really know what was going on but then I started jumping around, I had no idea what was happening.”
“It was really hard to take it all in at the time,” Xavier said. “I think everybody was just so excited, and didn’t really know how to react.”
“It’s a great feeling,” said Garret Hill. “We’re all still, it doesn’t really feel real, but we did it so that’s great.”
Coach Sauro has been the head coach for almost 20 years, and he says the city of Williamstown deserved another championship run after almost 60 years.
“I was just really happy for the town,” Sauro said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who have been watching basketball here for decades. For those people that got to see that, I was really happy for the town.”
Williamstown wants to make more championship runs on the basketball court, and coach says that with the championship pedigree they now have, the program is in good hands.
“We have a really good program with good kids coming in the future,” he said. “I want them to feel that moment to know what that felt like, to see, to experience that. And I want them to have a goal of trying to do the same thing some day. And I think that, that kind of tradition can carry on.”
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