LOWER GWYNEDD >> Wissahickon’s Jaylon Williams delivered all night against Upper Moreland Tuesday.
The junior scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed two key steals in the fourth quarter to help the Trojans pull away from the Golden Bears in a 53-45 Suburban One League crossover win at Wissahickon High School.
“It got into a walk up-and-down the floor game,” Wissahickon coach Kyle Wilson said, “which we prefer a little more up-and-down but if we have to run half-court sets lets run it. They went into their 3-2 (zone) and Jay’s shot was feeling it so it kept flowing, which was nice.”
Williams got started early, scoring five straight points to break a 2-2 tie late in the opening frame. His first basket of the game – a three-pointer – gave the Trojans the lead and he added a layup to make it 7-2. Teammate Dominic Vacchiano added a pair of free throws to complete the 7-0 run and put Wiss ahead, 9-2.
After Upper Moreland went on a 7-0 run of its own to tie the game at nine, Williams responded with back-to-back threes to make it 15-9. He hit three three-pointers in the second quarter to help the Trojans (8-3, 4-1 SOL Liberty) take a 22-17 lead into the locker room.
“They went zone,” Williams, who hit five three-pointers in the game, said. “I figured they were just trying to keep us out of the paint. We had to shoot them out of it.
“I’ve been working on shooting, but I’ve always been a strong shooter. I’ve just been building up confidence to shoot more and shoot deeper threes and trust my shot.”
Williams’ two steals in the fourth quarter were nearly identical and came in big moments. The first came around the six-minute mark. He swiped the ball, raced down the court and scored through contact. He made the free throw to give Wissahickon a 39-37 lead. He did it again with 3:30 remaining, this time avoiding contact at the rim and converting the layup to put his side ahead, 44-40.
“I just saw every single time they would curl and pass and not really look,” Williams said. “I figured I’d bait it and wait and get the steal.”
“When he wants to turn it on,” Wilson said, “he has another notch that he can go to. It was nice to see him in this game turn it on and make those plays.”
Williams’ plays helped the Trojans pull out a win in a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
Upper Moreland (6-3, 2-3 SOL Freedom) took its first lead of the game, 35-34, when Matt Tiernan made a layup to start the fourth quarter. Colson Campbell followed with a basket to put the Golden Bears ahead by three with 6:45 to go.
Williams was fouled shooting a three and went 2-for-3 from the charity stripe before his first steal-and-score put Wiss ahead, 39-37. Upper Moreland responded with a Byron Hopkins three to take a 40-39 lead with 5:53 remaining.
That’s when Wiss went on its game-winning run. Vacchiano hit a three to take the lead and Williams had his second steal-and-score to make it a two-possession game. Vacchiano hit a pair of free throws to make it seven straight points for the Trojans and a 46-40 lead with 3:01 on the clock.
After a Hopkins jumper made it 46-42, Josh Twersky split a pair of free throws for Wiss and Vacchiano went 4-for-4 from the line to complete the 12-2 run and put the Trojans ahead, 51-42, with 20 seconds left.
Sean Dallahan hit a three for Upper Moreland and Williams closed out the scoring with a pair of free throws for a 53-45 Wissahickon win.
“My guys did a great job battling back,” Upper Moreland coach Dan Heiland said. “The halftime speech was just trust each other, do the little things. The guys did that and that’s why we cut the lead to one at the end of the third and then we were able to take the lead for a lot of the fourth quarter there. Give credit to Wissahickon, they drew up some nice plays, got some guys wide open looks and knocked down some big shots in key moments. I think the difference was they executed at the end of the fourth quarter and we did not. We got away from ourselves there in the fourth quarter and that was ultimately the difference.”
Vacchiano went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and scored nine of his 15 points in the final 5:25. He was also tasked with guarding Tiernan in the paint after Twersky got into foul trouble.
“We need (Twersky) out there for his offense and his leadership,” Wilson said. “We said Dom has the physicality to play guard and go out and play a big guy like that. It’s what he does. A lot of times I get on him and forget he’s a sophomore, but he’s just playing so well. I’m elated at how he’s playing.”
Hopkins led Upper Moreland with 17 points and Tiernan added 12.
Tiernan scored six of his points in the third quarter, which Upper Moreland won, 16-12, to make it a one-point game heading to the fourth.
Wissahickon 53, Upper Moreland 45
Upper Moreland 5 12 16 12 – 45
Wissahickon 9 13 12 19 – 53
UM: Dallahan 2 0-0 6, Hopkins 7 1-1 17, Meakim 1 0-0 3, Lancit 0 0-0 0, Tiernan 6 0-0 12, Garofalo 1 1-2 3, Campbell 2 0-0 4. Total 19 2-3 45.
W: Lassiter 0 0-0 0, Twersky 1 1-3 3, Williams 8 5-7 26, Wilson 2 1-2 5, Vacchiano 3 8-8 15, Stout 2 0-1 4. Total 16 15-21 53.
3-point goals: UM: Dallahan 2, Hopkins 2, Meakim.W: Williams 5, Vacchiano.
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