SHINNSTON, W.Va. — Williamstown’s boys basketball team exceeded most expectations last season.
The Yellowjackets won nine straight games to start the year and were one victory away from a 20-win campaign. They came out on top in a regional co-final at Tolsia to reach the state tournament, where they suffered a loss to second-seeded Wheeling Central in a Class A quarterfinal.
Considering WHS had only three seniors to go with four juniors, finishing 19-7 and getting to Charleston was a major accomplishment. Additionally, each of Williamstown’s six losses to in-state teams came against Class A state tournament qualifiers.
All of that has helped raise the bar for what’s to come.
“We won’t have a lot of seniors again, but we have a lot of kids coming back with a lot experience,” said Yellowjackets’ coach Scott Sauro after one of his team’s three games at the Lincoln Cougar Shootout. “We’re pretty lucky, because we played some sophomores and juniors a lot of minutes, so we know we have some good kids coming back.”
Sauro is making sure the Yellowjackets remain busy during the three-week offseason workout period in which coaches are permitted to be with their teams.
One day before coming to Lincoln, Williamstown played three games in a shootout at Tyler Consolidated. The Yellowjackets also host an 18-team summer league that allows them to face competition from in and out of the state three days a week, and they plan to play in a shootout hosted by Wheeling Central at the end of June.
“We don’t want to be a final product now,” Sauro said. “We have a couple things in that we run, but really we’re trying to see how these guys play together so we can determine what we want to do from November to March.
“Does this kid like to touch the ball on the wing and go baseline or is he better going to the middle? Is this kid better posting up or facing up? We’re learning those things about these guys so we have an idea of different things we want to put in next year. As a coaching staff, that’s what we use the three-week period for.”
Williamstown will have to replace third-team all-state selection Cullen Cutright, although rising senior Eli Inman earned honorable mention all-state honors in 2019. The Yellowjackets should also have a nice mixture of size and perimeter play, allowing them to work inside-outside and present different looks for the opposition.
“We have the potential to be pretty good,” Sauro said. “We got (to the state tournament) and got our feet wet. Yeah, we didn’t win down there, but we got down there and we know what it’s like to play down there. They’re hungry and they want to go back.
“And I think they’ve put in a lot of time and effort. They’re doing everything in their power through lifting weights to becoming better individual players and being part of a team to try to get us back there.”