CHARLESTON, W.Va. — From what Williamstown coach Scott Sauro had seen on film, Chapmanville spent most of its season facing teams that played man-to-man defense.
In turn, Sauro figured the Yellowjackets’ best plan for Friday’s Class AA semifinal against the fifth-seeded Tigers would be to utilize a 2-3 defense.
That decision paid off and then some, with top seed Williamstown holding the Tigers to 12 field goals and less than 31 percent shooting in a workmanlike 55-41 victory at the Charleston Coliseum.
“We decided to play 2-3 zone, mainly because when we watched Chapmanville play it seemed like they played a lot of man-to-man in the southern part of the state,” Sauro said. “They have literally forty sets it seems like against man so we thought a zone would be better. Teams tend to get stationary against zones and we’re pretty good at playing it.”
The victory sends the Yellowjackets (16-1) into Saturday’s Class AA title game against No. 2 Poca.
Williamstown never trailed and got six first-quarter points from Sam Cremeans, while holding the Tigers (9-7) to 1-of-12 shooting in the opening period.
“Hats off to Williamstown,” Tigers’ coach Brad Napier said. “They took away a lot of the things we were trying to do. They were really good today.”
Chapmanville settled in during the second quarter, closing to within one point on separate occasions, including at 13-12 following Isaiah Fleming’s three-pointer 4:17 prior to halftime.
But the Yellowjackets answered with a 7-2 spurt, getting five points from Xavier Caruthers to create the slightest of separation, before settling for a 20-16 halftime lead.
“We were a little tight early and couldn’t score to get in our pressure,” Napier said. “Williamstown did a great job playing zone on us and taking away some of the things that we like to do. In the second quarter, we hit a couple shots, which enabled us to pressure and speed the game up.”
But Cremeans took the contest over in the third quarter, scoring 13 of Williamstown’s 20 points to help his team build a 40-26 lead. The 6-foot-5 senior had 10 points over the final 5:07 of the frame, including a pair of three-pointers.
“It’s a big credit to my teammates for getting me open and I was in the right place at the right time,” Cremeans said. “Just shaking off the bad plays and keep looking forward all the time. I have great teammates that lift me up if I miss shots. It’s no big deal and I try to hit them the next time.”
The Tigers trailed by double digits throughout the fourth quarter, getting as close as 10 with 1:49 left, but never scoring again.
Cremeans finished with 27 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
“He took over in third quarter and when you’re playing good teams your best players have to step up,” Sauro said.
Cremeans also made 9-of-11 free throws as part of the Yellowjackets’ strong effort from the foul line, which saw them convert 21-of-27 attempts.
“We go 21 of 27 from the free-throw line and if you’re going to win these type of games in the state tournament, you have to make foul shots,” Sauro said.
The two teams combined for only 19 turnovers, with Williamstown committing 10. WHS also shot nearly 50 percent as it made 15-of-32 field goals.
Baylor Haught added a double-double off 11 points and 11 boards, helping WHS out-rebound the Tigers, 29-19.
Brody Dalton led the Tigers with 12 points and eight boards. Devon Workman added 11 points and Fleming scored nine with four assists in defeat.
“We’ve been offensively challenged and tried to make games ugly to create havoc and turnovers,” Napier said. “We couldn’t speed them up and create turnovers.”