Wildcats fall to Millionaires, 74-70

WILLIAMSPORT — The boxscore will never show the impact Tyler McCann made Tuesday night.

The video will. There were the six assists the Williamsport senior guard dished out. There were the three steals he made. There was the time he hustled the length of the court and broke up what would have been a sure layup. McCann might not have lit up the scoreboard last night, but Williamsport would not have won without him.

Williamsport always either erased a deficit or extended its lead when McCann was on the court and his complete performance lit a fuse as Williamsport edged HAC-I champion Central Mountain, 74-70 and snapped a three-game losing streak. Al-Tamar Jason and Darryl Wilson each scored 18 points and Marcus Simmons clinched the win by draining two free throws with 6.9 seconds remaining, but McCann made quite an MVP case in his first varsity start.

“I’m just going to go out there and play hard defense and try and force turnovers and create plays for other people,” McCann said. “I like that role. I get called scrappy a lot. That’s what I am. I take that as a compliment. That’s what I do and that’s my role for this team.”

It is a role McCann has played well all season. And on Senior Night he owned his senior moments, repeatedly making timely plays. McCann made two straight steals and dealt two straight assists to put Williamsport ahead in the second quarter. He then put Williamsport (11-9) ahead to stay in the third quarter when he found Eric Smith (7 points, 6 rebounds) and Wilson on consecutive possessions.

McCann’s sixth assist came on a Wilson 3-pointer and Williamsport went on an 18-6 run to built an 11-point lead it never relinquished. McCann also split the defense and scored an inside basket midway through the fourth quarter after Central Mountain (11-9) had cut a 12-point deficit to seven.

“It was needed energy because Saturday we did not play with any energy or enthusiasm or passion and Tyler is a kid that always gives 100 percent. I thought he would be a good spark to put out there with the guys that we had out there,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. “He’s very unselfish. He’s going to give his best effort defensively, he’s going to get the ball to the open guy and he will take the shots that the defense gives him, but it was more his energy. That was just the leadership we needed tonight. That set the standard and the guys did a nice job of following him.”

Jason scored eight third-quarter points and Wilson added six more as Williamsport started extending what was a one-point lead at halftime in a game that had featured eight lead changes. The Millionaires did a better job forcing turnovers in the second half and consistently moved the ball well, getting quality shots and shooting 57 percent from the field. Smith returned from injury and provided solid defense while also drawing two charges and keeping possessions alive with his hustle and rebounding.

The Millionaires still have work to do as they try and defend their District 2-4 Class AAAAAA championship, but this was a step in the right direction.

“It was good. We got everyone involved and we shared the ball well,” McCann said. “We didn’t finish as well as we’d like to, but it was a good team win and hopefully we can continue progressing up to playoffs.”

Central Mountain has been hurt by injuries over the last few weeks, but starter Trevor Hanna returned last night and all nine players coach Tyler Bardo used made a nice impact. Four different players hit 3-pointers, Collin Jones and Matt Storeman had outstanding games and Central Mountain rallied every time it appeared Williamsport might land a knockout blow.

The Wildcats were not out for a moral victory, but the way they performed could be a nice springboard as they compete in Wednesday’s HAC Tournament against Danville.

“We went nine deep tonight which is about as deep as we’ve gone for a few games here and I love what we’re seeing from all nine,” Bardo said. We wanted this game to get back to what we’re used to. It was nice to see us get some things corrected at practice and it showed there.”

Central Mountain rallied from a nine-point second-quarter deficit to draw within one by halftime and then take two third-quarter lead changes. Storeman delivered a career-high 26 points, including 19 in the second half. Collin Jones played a strong all-around game, scoring 20 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, making six steals and adding four assists.

The Wildcats never made less than 50 percent of their shots in a quarter and finished shooting 58 percent. After trailing by 12 early in the fourth quarter, Central Mountain came storming back and Storeman scored four straight points to make it a one-possession game at 72-69 with 9.6 seconds remaining.

“That’s something to build off going into (tonight),” Bardo said. “We knew we had a couple down games there and had to get a couple things fixed and it was definitely a positive that we did get it fixed a little bit.”

Simmons (14 points) was fouled with 6.9 seconds remaining and calmly drained both foul shots, clinching the win. After struggling over the final two minutes in Saturday’s 3-point loss to Danville, Williamsport closed this one out better and earned a win that could lead to better things.

Sometimes you win games that aren’t pretty but you get a win. a little more easier and enjoyable teaching guys from a win rather than a loss,” Taylor said. “I was pleased with the effort, we just have to do a better job of executing and playing smart.”

CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (70)

Collin Jones 8 4-5 20, Matt Storeman 7 10-15 26, Trevor Hanna 1 0-0 2, Isaiah McCann 1 0-0 2, Jake Skritch 2 1-2 6, Tyler Adair 2 0-0 5, Connor Soo 0 0-0 0, JT Pentz 1 0-0 2, Tanner Lavelle 3 0-0 7. Totals 25 15-22 70.

WILLIAMSPORT (74)

Al-Tamar Jason 9 0-2 18, Darryl Wilson 7 1-3 18, Marcus Simmons 4 4-4 14, Ethan Williams 2 0-1 5, Eric Smith 3 1-2 7, D’Angelo Strachon 2 0-0 4.

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