Boys Varsity Basketball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Jan 19, 2021
- MILLIONAIRES: 41
LOYALSOCK TOWNSHIP HS: 52
Gair scored 12 critical points bridging the middle quarters, Ali scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the third quarter and Loyalsock played stifling defense as it defeated Williamsport, 52-41. The Lancers (5-0) remained undefeated and won their third straight in this series with Gair and Ali combining for 33 of the team’s 52 points.
“It’s important,” Ali said after reaching 20 points for a third straight game. “We won the past three years that I’ve been on the team and to cap it off my senior year is a great feeling.”
“It felt extra special. It sucks that we couldn’t experience the whole crowd and how loud it gets, but we still had a good crowd cheering us on,” Gair said. “I was happy I had all my friends come out and it was a great feeling.”
Loyalsock generated those good feelings by taking the game over in the third quarter and using an 18-8 run to build on a one-point halftime lead. Williamsport led 22-18 with three minutes remaining before halftime, but Gair scored the half’s final five points and the third quarter’s first four as Loyalsock started taking control.
The last two years Loyalsock won in overtime and by two after staging a furious fourth-quarter rally. This victory was not as dramatic, but it certainly felt as rewarding.
“This is one of our biggest games of the year just because of the community pride,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “The kids have played against each other all the way through so they know each well and it means a lot to Loyalsock to get a win here.”
Williamsport (1-1) was playing just its second game and has several younger players among its nine-man rotation. The Millionaires started strong and have a lot of upside. But this also is a growing process.
And as much as Williamsport wanted to win this game, there are lessons it can take from it which could help it down the road as it tries winning a district championship.
“We have some pieces, have some depth, it’s just a matter of understanding what we’re doing. I don’t think we’re that far away. We’ll be OK,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. “This will be a good game for us to look at the film and point some things out. Guys are just too low or not coming to the ball or just not in the right spots. We still have a little work to do.”
Gair started doing work after Williamsport took its four-point lead, the biggest either team held in the first half. The senior guard drained a long 3-pointer before scoring on a drive which closed the half, gave Loyalsock its first lead of the second quarter and provided some momentum.
Gair picked up where he left off in the second half, scoring on a running floater before going up and under through two defenders. He then drained an NBA-range 3-pointer a minute later and scored 12 of Loyalsock’s 13 points as it turned that four-point deficit into a 31-22 advantage.
“I’ve been playing good defense but the first four games I haven’t had that big offensive game,” Gair said. “I’m just waiting for that one big offensive explosion but I think what I did (Tuesday) helped a lot. It brought a lot of energy and aggressiveness to us.”
Gair’s shooting touch was contagious and Ali heated up from there, scoring 10 of Loyalsock’s final 11 third-quarter points. He went 4 for 4 from the field during that time, making two 3-pointers and finishing with four. The senior point guard also grabbed four rebounds, blocked two shots and scored 16 second-half points.
Loyalsock took advantage of the 3-pointer all night, connecting on nine. The Lancers have 21 3-pointers over the last two games and, more important, all nine Tuesday seemed to come at key times. Julian Wilson played well off the bench and his 3-pointer snuffed out a brief Williamsport spurt and put Loyalsock up, 46-35 with 3 minutes, 23 seconds remaining. The Millionaires never pulled closer than nine again.
“We just needed to get our rhythm going and once we got that rhythm going we knew we could get by them,” Ali said. “We slowed their game and we sped ours up.”
Loyalsock switching to a 2-3 zone defense after the first quarter helped fuel that process. Williamsport scored 14 first-quarter points before the Lancers switched and stayed in the 2-3 the rest of the game while allowing just 27 more points. Wilson and Saraj Ali played a large role in slowing Williamsport down and Ali grabbed 12 rebounds, topping 10 for a fifth straight game.
Nassir Jones (10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks) was tough inside, but Loyalsock limited his touches. The Lancers also prevented James Evans-McQuay from getting into the lane as effectively as he did in the first quarter when he scored seven of his 11 points.
“When I watched them warm up tonight in front of me I thought, ‘Oh my goodness,'” Insinger said. “With the athleticism they have, I thought this could be a night from hell and they started out really well, but the 2-3 worked well and that way we didn’t have to worry about matchups as much.”
Tyler Fausnaught dealt five assists for Williamsport and Xavier Taylor added three off the bench. Taylor also scored five straight fourth-quarter points, trimming a 13-point deficit to eight before Wilson’s 3-pointer ended that run.
Williamsport is working on its offense, but what disappointed Taylor was its defensive struggles. That is an area he expects to see much improvement come Thursday and Saturday when Williamsport hosts Altoona and Troy.
“Their guards were more aggressive getting to the basket and we didn’t get after it defensively like we should have,” Taylor said. “That’s something that has to be addressed because defense is where we can win a lot of games.”
Idris Ali 7 2-2 20, Saraj Ali 2 2-5 6, Dominic Jennings 3 0-0 7, Eli Gair 5 1-2 13, Sean Jensen 1 0-0 3, Julian Wilson 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 5-9 52.
James Evans-McQuay 5 1-2 11, Nassir Jones 5 0-3 10, Kenon Brown 1 0-0 2, Al-Kabeer Jason 0 0-0 0, Tyler Fausnaught 1 0-0 3, Elijah Frierson 2 4-4 8, Xavier Taylor 2 0-0 5, Nayim Connelly-Ali 0 0-0 0, JJ Beagle 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 5-9 41.
Loyalsock 14 9 18 11-52
Williamsport 14 8 8 11-41
3-pointers: Loyalsock 9 (I. Ali 4, Gair 2, Jennings, Jensen, Wilson); Williamsport 2 (Fausnaught, Taylor).
Records: Loyalsock 5-0. Williamsport 1-1.
JV Score: Williamsport 54-49