It was a perfect sequence of passes.
In the high post, Alan Glover kicked out to Danny Cooper in the corner. Cooper passed up a possible shot and instead whipped the ball to Ahmin Williams at the top of the key. Williams also could have taken a shot but instead kicked it to his right and found his twin brother Ahmad.
With Lower Merion’s defense a full step behind in rotating, Ahmad Williams buried the wide-open 3-pointer.
It may be the end of June, but the Colonials played some pretty good basketball Thursday night as they topped the Aces 61-43 in the championship of the Plymouth Whitemarsh Spring League at Colonial Elementary School.
“We moved the ball, played good defense, got up early and set the tone early,” Ahmad Williams said. “Everybody is hungry for next year. We felt like we should have had a state championship this year and a district championship this year. I think all the guys coming back are hungry.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Naheem McLeod goes for a dunk against Lower Merion in the Plymouth Whitemarsh Spring League final on Thursday, June 29, 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)
Ahmad Williams and Glover (8-of-10 shooting) each scored 17 points for PW, a District 1-6A semifinalist and PIAA quarterfinalist last winter. With the Williams twins, Glover, Ish Horn, Jason Paul and Cooper all rising seniors, PW has eyes on a district and state title run next season.
That’s why the summer is so important, whether it be these spring league games or the various team camps, like the one at Temple last weekend, they’ve been attending since the offseason began. Last season, Glover was injured most of the regular season and Ahmin Williams was lost for the postseason, so the Colonials were never truly at full strength.
In the month-long summer league, it’s been all hands on deck and the squad has made plenty of strides forward.
“We’re moving without the ball and looking for each other, we believe in each other now,” rising junior center Naheem McLeod said. “At the beginning of this league, we didn’t have that faith in each other. Now we believe in each other and we want to pick that up in the high school season.”
McLeod, the seven-footer, was a player who had a lot of growth during the season last year. He even grew a few inches during the campaign but at times struggled to fit in when the Colonials went to their aggressive, trapping defenses.
Thursday, he quarterbacked the defense while acting as a deterrent at the rim. The big man knows he’ll need to be more of a factor this coming season and has his focus on improving technically and mentally.
“I got more comfortable shooting the ball and playing through contact,” McLeod said. “Last year, really freshman year, I used to hate contact, I used to run from it. I have to try and step up now and expect it.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Ahmad Williams looks to pass the ball against during the Plymouth Whitemarsh Spring League final on Thursday, June 29, 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)
Both McLeod and Williams noted ball movement as something the Colonials have been excelling at the last month. Thursday, they had 14 assists on 28 made shots and would have added a few more if not for a handful of missed jumpers and layups.
When they did miss, it seemed like Glover or one of the twins came down with the offensive board. Glover, who had very strong back-to-back games in the semifinals and final, had five of his 11 rebounds on the offensive end and scored on three of them.
“He looks for me, I look for him, we find each other and score together,” McLeod said of Glover. “We call each other brothers.”
Even without head coach Jim Donofrio, who is recuperating after hip surgery, on the bench this week, the Colonials didn’t hold back from getting after each other on the court. On turnovers or missed shots, there was always a quick and emphatic discussion about what needed to happen to prevent it from occurring again.
On a team that expects to compete for and win titles, there’s a certain expectation of every player who sees the floor.
“Everybody is expecting excellence from each other,” Williams said. “If you’re performing under the standard, we’re going to let you know ‘hey, that’s not our standard.’ Coach will do it in a minute if he sees it and we’ll do it in practice. We’ve been doing it a long time and I think that’s what is so unique about this team.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh's Alan Glover (right) and Naheem McLeod go for the block during their Plymouth Whitemarsh Spring League final against Lower Merion on Thursday, June 29, 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)
After back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams and Glover put PW up 12-7 in the first quarter, the Colonials never looked back. McLeod threw down a dunk with two seconds left in the first frame for a 16-10 lead, PW built it to 28-20 at the half and led by nine at 44-35 after three frames. Ahmin Williams finished with eight points and four assists, his best basket a sharp backdoor cut into a layup off a pass from his brother in the third quarter.
Ish Horn and McLeod scored six each, Paul had three points and Cooper and Jordan Evans each scored two to round out the PW baskets.
“Everybody just needs to keep working on their skills,” Williams said. “Now is the time for development, listen to your coaches, get stronger stay healthy and grow. That’s all there is to it.”
Top Photo: Plymouth Whitemarsh's Alan Glover plays tight defense during the Plymouth Whitemarsh Spring League final against Lower Merion on Thursday, June 29 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)