WILLIAMSTOWN Based on its first meeting of the regular season against Williamstown, Wood County Christian improved by leaps and bounds.
The Yellowjackets, on the other hand, may have taken several steps back since trying to turn the corner following a lengthy losing streak.
In a rematch of Williamstown's opening night when it handled WCCS by 45 points, the Wildcats survived five ties in the fourth quarter Friday night and defeated the Yellowjackets 60-55.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Wood County Christian's Patrick Goff blocks a shot by Williamstown's Landon Travis Friday. Wood County Christian won, 60-55.
WCCS, which improved to 9-13, trailed by many as 11 points in the third quarter then took the lead for good at 56-54 at the 1:59 mark of the fourth quarter on a bucket by Scotty Heslop off an assist from Zachary Hughes.
Williamstown's Hunter Neely made one of two free throws with 48 ticks left on the clock and the Yellowjackets were given a golden opportunity when WCCS' Patrick Goff missed the team's only free-throw attempt at 47 seconds.
Following a timeout, Williamstown missed three shots from inside the paint and WCCS point guard Jamie Arnold was eventually fouled. The senior, who was a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe and finished with a team-high 17 points, made both free throws at 17.3 seconds.
"That first game with Williamstown was rough we just weren't prepared for them," Arnold said. "Tonight, coach (Dan Ellis) did a good job preparing us for this game."
Williamstown had one last gasp trailing 58-55, but Chandler Weber's open shot at the top of the 3-point arc bounced off the rim and Mitchell Morris gathered in the defensive rebound. With 1.8 seconds remaining, Morris converted both free throws for his only points of the game.
"Williamstown is a good outside shooting team, so it would not have surprised me if they would have made it," Ellis said. "I'm just thankful they didn't."
Four players scored in double figures for the Wildcats, including Hughes with 16 points and three steals, along with Heslop and Goff both tossing in 10 points.
WCCS turned the ball over just six times, including a clean slate in the fourth quarter.
"These kids have worked hard and progressively gotten a little bit better as the season has gone on," Ellis said. "A win like this is huge for their confidence."
Williamstown never got into synch after falling behind 7-0 four minutes into the game. Behind 10 points from reserve Landon Travis and another eight points from both Neely and Weber, the Yellowjackets pulled ahead for a 31-27 advantage by intermission.
Early in the third quarter, the gap increased to 42-31 on three straight buckets from Gage Wix, who finished with a team-high 17 points. Just before the quarter break, WCCS pulled even at 46.
"We absolutely did take several steps back," Williamstown coach Scott Sauro said after his team dropped to 6-12. "Wood County Christian played with a passion. This meant something to them they played very, very hard and made the plays to win.
"We were real hesitant tonight. We just didn't have it."