BENNETT: Fun ride at the state tourney
As I was sitting in the media room following Williamstown’s 50-47 Class AA state championship game victory versus Poca on Saturday afternoon and looking up at the podium, it was 100% all smiles for ‘Jacket boss Scott Sauro along with players Sam Cremeans, Xavier Caruthers and Baylor Haught.
Albeit a lot more work, covering a state championship win is always better than reporting on a tough loss in the final game of the season.
Cremeans was carrying a huge belt when he walked in and promptly kept it over his shoulder during the press conference.
At one point I finally had to ask him what the deal was with the belt, which looked like something a WWE champion would carry around.
“It’s kind of like a tradition we started last year, and we’ll just give it to a guy after every game and he gets to take care of the belt if he’s like the player of the game,” noted Cremeans.
Sauro was quick to add “one of our assistant coaches, Tyler Satterfield, loves big-time wrestling, OK, and so he’s like ‘hey, we need to reward these guys for like just effort plays and stuff like that.’
“It’s not always the leading scorer who gets the belt. Sam got it today. When you get 20 in a state championship game and win you get the belt.”
Despite having the No. 1 seed, I’m sure if one had taken a poll before the game started a majority would’ve leaned toward the second-seeded Dots cutting down the nets.
Since they say honesty is always the best policy, my pick going into the state tournament to win it all was actually Charleston Catholic.
However, the Williamstown “match-up” 2-3 zone proved to be the difference.
“We actually run the zone to take away the 3,” Sauro explained.
“We play our wings really high, and those kids have done a good job of playing the wing and then taking away the corner. These kids are great at running it. We can put Sam out top, who is 6-5, and that helps with passing lanes.
“Honestly, it’s just moving as the ball leaves the passer’s hands and being in the right position and we are blessed with a bunch of smart kids on our team, and they can do that and pick things up just like that with our zone. They understand what the other team is trying to do offensively.”
One of my favorite moments in the press conference was when Cremeans said of the win “it still feels not real. I have so many people to thank. I thank all the coaches, of course, I thank coach Sauro.”
To which the Yellowjacket boss quickly replied “you’re welcome. Thank you.”
Cremeans added “it just took a lot of work to get here and we’re really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
As for Caruthers, “I think it was just awesome to come down here and actually win the state championship.
“It’s been our goal since when we were in third and fourth grade. It was just cool to actually do it.”
Haught, who was attempting to double-double in all three contests, pulled down a championship game-high 12 boards, but only had seven points.
When I asked him about not getting a third straight double-double he just smiled and said, “we won so it doesn’t matter.”
What indeed does matter is this group of Yellowjackets being able to stick together, put last year’s opportunity that was taken away from them due to Mountain State COVID-19 restrictions on the back burner and staying focused throughout.
“I’ve been lucky enough to coach at Williamstown High School for the last 17 years,” explained Sauro.
“In our gym, we do the national anthem, and we step out on the floor, and we look at the flag and underneath the flag is all the state championship banners from all the different teams that we have.
“I always during the national anthem, right below that is the boys’ basketball state championships and there’s only one number up there and it’s 1962 and I always look at that. It’s always been, obviously, if you are coaching it’s a goal to win a state title. I always look at that and go ‘I’d love to help be a part of bringing this community another one of those’ and now it’s going to say 2021. It feels great to be able to do that. We’re just thankful and really grateful.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org