— Story by Taylor Kennedy
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Williamstown Yellowjackets are coming off one of their best seasons in program history. The Yellow Jackets finished last season 24-1 earning the No. 1 seed in the Class A state tournament.
Their season was cut short due to COVID-19 sweeping the country. Like Williamstown, teams are having to put their seasons in the rearview mirror and continue moving forward.
“Last year, for us, was the way it ended was devastating,” said WHS head coach Scott Sauro. Sauro was a guest on High School Sportsline Wednesday evening. “We were 24-1 and had just won our regional game, and we had just gotten the number one seed in the tournament. To have that one-seed, and not have the opportunity was hard to take. You have to move forward.”
Through these last four weeks, coaches have been able to examine different areas of their team, including personnel and bench production.
“If you were to ask me that question a month ago, I would have said that was my biggest concern,” said Sauro of this year’s depth. “Through 14 practices and one scrimmage, I have come to like the depth we have. We have kids that play hard. We’ve got quickness coming off the bench. So far I have been pleased with how those kids are playing. I am more comfortable with our depth now than I was a month ago.”
Williamstown welcomes back Samuel Cremeans. Cremeans was a Class A first team All-State member. He earned the Little Kanawha Conference Player of the Year award. Cremeans finished last season averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. He also shot an impressive 54% from the field, including shooting 41% from behind the arc.
“Sam Cremeans is a returning first-team all-stater for us,” Sauro said. “This is my 17th season here at Williamstown, and we have had first-team all-state members before. He is the first one that I have coached, to be listed as a junior. He works extremely hard. He is a self-starter. To be a self-starter is an important trait. We do not have to ask him to go into the gym and get extra shots up he does it on his own. We appreciate that about him and how hard he works.”
Xavier Caruthers also returns to the Yellowjacket lineup. Caruthers was a Class A second team All-State member. He averaged 13 points per game last season. He made 64 three-pointers. Caruthers was also one of the best free-throw shooters in the state shooting 93%.
“Xavier Caruthers is another guy that has been a tremendous player for us. He can shoot from range. The thing we like about him is that he is such a smart player. He is a coach’s son. His dad is on our staff. He is a guy that has expanded his game. He is becoming more of a driver because he is such a good shooter. The shooting allows him to be a better penetrator.”
Another guy that was key in Williamstown’s success last season was Garrett Hill. Hill averaged six points per game, but his energy is what helped the Yellow Jackets succeed.
“We love him,” noted Sauro. “He is the type of kid that can score two to five points a game and dominate the pace of the game. That is what a point guard’s role is. He distributes the ball well, but he controls the pace of how we want to play. If we want to play slow, he is in charge of that. He is as good of a guy that I have had at doing that. If we want to play fast, he is the guy that creates all of that. We like him and his progress, leadership, and demeanor. He is like an extension of our coaching staff on the floor.”
COVID-19 could either postpone or cancel games at any time this season. Some coaches are planning for when that time comes to call another team if available.
“I think everyone, especially this year, has to be flexible,” said Sauro of managing games this year. “We understand that the schedule we have right now will change at some point. If I had to guess, we will play somebody that is not already on our schedule right now. We will probably end up not playing somebody on our schedule right now. With this COVID stuff, this is what we expect. Our conference is tough. We have games like Poca, Greenbrier West, and some games like that will be good for us as well.”
It has been a long wait for coaches and players to be back out on the hardwood. It has been almost a year since boys basketball teams played a game.
“It has been a long time,” said Sauro. “We are happy to be out there. For us, it has almost been a year. Just to get those guys back into the gym in mid-February was a great feeling. We are excited about playing. We are thankful for this opportunity. We thank the WVSSAC and the Governor for giving us this opportunity.”
Williamstown will hit the road and face off against Dave Tallman Sr. and his Magnolia Blue Eagles Saturday afternoon.