Williamsport Area High School
Boys Varsity Basketball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Feb 4, 2023
- MILLIONAIRES: 68
LOYALSOCK TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL: 55
Harden takes over late as Williamsport pulls away and defeats Loyalsock
In the latest thrilling Williamsport-Loyalsock showdown, the game was tied with four minutes remaining. From there on, Harden left an indelible stamp on the game’s outcome, putting on an all-around clinic. He made three steals, dealt three assists, added four points and keyed a huge run as Williamsport pulled away for a hard-fought 68-55 win at Lycoming’s Lamade Gymnasium. George Whaley scored 19 points and was one of four Millionaires (13-4) who reached double figures, helping Williamsport win on a night the gym was filled well before the JV game ended.
Every player did his part, but Harden went into overdrive at the most crucial time and was the most valuable player over those last four minutes as Williamsport closed on a 17-4 run and won its sixth consecutive game.
“It was real fun just helping my team bring up the energy when we had to face a little bit of adversity with their comeback,” Harden said. “Me coming in and changing the whole game and finding Biscuit (Jakiha Kline) for the (go-ahead) dunk and changing the whole crowd’s momentum, that was really big.”
Harden ignited the game-ending run when he rebounded a missed shot and fired a long pass Kline’s way. The senior forward threw down a thunderous one-hand slam, the Millionaire crowd erupted, and Williamsport was off and running. Harden was just getting started, too.
Those steals and/or turnovers Harden created were hammer-like blows after Loyalsock had fought back from 11 down in the first quarter to tie the game. People might look at the box score, see that Harden scored six points and think he did not make a big impact. Anyone who watched the game, however, knows what a big-time difference-maker he was.
The super sub finished with five steals and five assists, and his defensive pressure forced turnovers even when he did not directly make the steal. What lifted Williamsport and sank Loyalsock (12-7) late was that Harden turned those steals into points. Following the Kline dunk, Harden made a steal and found Zach Lake for a 3-point play.
Harden produced another steal moments later and Whaley sank a 3-pointer. Fittingly, Harden dropped the hammer on Loyalsock, hitting two free throws and then collecting his final steal and converting a layup to make it 66-55 with less than a minute remaining.
“That was clutch,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. “The way he played the last 3 1/2 minutes was huge for us. He forced two or three turnovers that led to transition buckets. It wasn’t just a steal, and we got a possession. It was we got a steal and we scored.”
“I always would rather have two points than win a game than have 30 and lose. I like doing the little stuff that changes momentum and helping my teammates get better,” Harden said. “Whether it’s scoring or finding my teammates or playing defense, I just like changing the game’s complexion and helping us win games.”
That is a mentality all Harden’s teammates share and reveals a lot about how this team has come together to start surging down the stretch. Every player Taylor used again made positive impacts and Whaley, Kline (10 points, 7 rebounds), Caden Holt (11 points) and reserve Thomas Takach (10 points, five rebounds) all reached double figures. Lake added four assists and Caleb Fausnaught seven points.
This is a team playing without fear as well. Five players scored in the fourth quarter and different Millionaires stepped up in pivotal situations. It was a near repeat of how Williamsport closed out Shamokin Thursday with each Millionaire playing to his strength and shining under pressure.
“We found a way to overcome adversity and play through it. I’m proud of the way the guys fought through and controlled the things they could control,” Taylor said. “That’s what I’ve been preaching all season. Let’s focus on what we can control and take care of those things and everything else will take care of itself. I’m just thankful those guys were able to take care of the focus, execute in the end and extend the lead.”
A night after capturing the HAC-III championship, Loyalsock looked like it was in big trouble when Williamsport scored the game’s first 10 points and led 12-1 less than three minutes in. A team which has made big strides this season, however, came roaring back. The Lancers cut it to seven at halftime, tied it late in the third quarter and exchanged leads three times in the fourth, going up for the last time, 51-50 on a Gage Patterson runner.
“We weren’t ready for the first three minutes and the last three minutes,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said a night after his team won its seventh straight league title. “We played pretty well other than the beginning and the end.”
Indeed. Loyalsock controlled the middle quarters but fighting back from a double-digit deficit against a deep team like Williamsport consumes a lot of energy. Still, Loyalsock generated a lot of positives and playing Williamsport should again help it prepare for the postseason.
Nate Bauman fueled the comeback and was a force in the first half when he scored 13 of his 20 points. Jaylen Andrews scored 15 points and heated up in the second quarter when Loyalsock came charging back. Patterson had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Ethan Nagy produced 10 rebounds, giving him 22 the last two nights. Loyalsock took its first lead when Bauman found Nagy for a layup to make it, 49-47 but Takach answered with a 3-pointer. Patterson then countered with the runner to put Sock back ahead before Kline’s free throw tied it 51-51 with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining.
“It was a playoff atmosphere and that’s why we have it and that’s why we play them,” Insinger said. “We’re not going to go against anyone faster, stronger or who can play any better than these guys.”
Harden fought for the rebound and produced the game’s turning point when he threw the outlet pass to Kline for his go-ahead dunk. The Millionaires rattled off the next eight points and after Loyalsock ended the run, Harden quickly found Lake for the 3-point play and made it 62-53 with 1:42 remaining.
“The amount of times we’ve been through situations like that, it’s been building us as a team and helping us stay together through adversity,” Harden said. “When things are close, we lock in and dial in and get the job done.”
George Whaley 7 4-4 19, Jakiha Kline 4 2-3 10, Caleb Fausnaught 3 1-2 7, Zach Lake 2 1-1 5, Caden Holt 3 3-3 11, Jamaire Harden 2 2-3 6, Thomas Takach 3 2-2 10, Kyreek Bradshaw 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 15-18 68.
Jaylen Andrews 6 0-0 15, Gage Patterson 5 3-4 14, Nate Bauman 8 3-5 20, Tyler Gee 0 0-0 0, Ethan Nagy 3 0-0 6, Tarik Abdul-Hakim 0 0-0 0, Isiah Jennings 0 0-0 0, Alec Kulp 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 6-9 55.
Williamsport 22 14 9 23-68
Loyalsock 14 17 11 13-55
3-pointers: Williamsport 5 (Holt 2, Takach 2, Whaley); Loyalsock 5 (Andrews 3, Patterson, Bauman).
Records: Williamsport 13-4. Loyalsock 12-7.