As Williamsport freshman Janelle Robinson simultaneously picked up both the basketball and diminutive Mansfield point guard Simone Lichty in the fourth quarter Tuesday, the players and many watching smiled.
It was a demonstration of Robinson's power but the sequence also spoke volumes. Robinson, an imposing 6-foot-3 center, was having fun throughout the game and smiling a lot as she dominated after entering midway through the third quarter. And if Robinson builds off her breakout performance, coach Derek Slaughter and her teammates will be smiling a lot the next four years.
Robinson was a force against visiting Mansfield, scoring 10 points, grabbing nine rebounds, blocking two shots and altering many more in only 12 minutes while helping Williamsport rally for a 64-46 win.
"I know I'm a threat on the team a little bit," said Robinson who scored six fourth-quarter points and hit 5 of 7 shots. "I'm getting there. I still have more stuff to work on."
When Robinson entered, Williamsport trailed by two but she helped the Millionaires outscore Mansfield, 31-11 the rest of the night. She also took pressure off standout forward Aisha Evans who was her outstanding self, scoring a game-high 25 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and making five steals.
The scary thing is Robinson has barely scratched the surface of what she can do. She has played in only a handful of varsity games and was in her second game back after suffering a concussion that sidelined her for a few weeks. Robinson has a nice touch around the basket, plays smart defense, can dominate the boards and is an outstanding outlet passer. Several times, the freshman made baseball passes on inbound plays, hitting her teammates in stride while setting up layups.
"I'm not fully there yet," Robinson said. "It was boring when I was out, but it allowed me to get myself together."
"We saw in practice the kind of difference she can make and fortunately, Janelle came in changed the whole course of the game. That was obvious and she takes pressure off Aisha," Slaughter said. "The future is very bright. She has a lot of upside. She has to continue to work hard but if she does what she's capable of doing the sky is the limit."
That could be the case for the entire team if it plays the way it did after falling behind by 11 late in the second quarter against playoff-bound Mansfield (12-7). Instead of sulking, Williamsport (5-16) came back with a vengeance, ending the half on an 8-1 run and pulling within three at the half.
Sophomore point guard Myeesha Peterson played stifling defense and that changed the game's complexion. She played a major role in forcing 10 second-quarter turnovers that fueled Williamsport's comeback and her free throw five minutes into the third quarter put Williamsport ahead to stay. Senior guard Deidra Dunkleberger also came alive, doing a little bit of everything to aid the comeback while finishing with nine points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Peterson fed Evans for a layup as the third quarter ended and the Millionaires took an eight-point lead. They kept their foot on the gas, opening a 13-point lead less than three minutes into the final quarter. Evans scored 14 second-half points and combined with Robinson to help Williamsport dominate the boards. Lydia Whaley added 11 points and everything came together for a team that could be a postseason sleeper.
"Myeesha is the one that got it turned around with the defensive pressure she was putting on and that transferred over to everybody. She got it started and then it was contagious with the defensive pressure," Slaughter said. "We were able to withstand Mansfield's run and make a run of our own. We kept the pressure on them and got out with a good win over a quality team."
Mansfield looked great for most of the first half, taking a 10-point lead into the second quarter. Jackie Hillson was virtually unstoppable early, scoring 14 of her 20 points in the first half. She did not miss a shot in the second half, but Mansfield struggled to get the ball to her, finding her for just three shots.
"When we were executing we couldn't be stopped, but when we stopped doing that they took control of the game," Mansfield coach Jason Dominick said. "That's the thing that's frustrating. We're good enough to compete for a district championship, but we have to play like we're capable of."
Emily James scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Lichty added seven assists.
Molly Wood 2 1-2 5, Emily James 3 2-2 9, Jackie Hillson 7 5-8 20, Ali Hillson 3 1-4 7, Madison York 1 1-2 3, Erin Dempsey 0 0-0 0, Simone Lichty 1 0-0 2, Maggie Farrer 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 10-18 46.
Aisha Evans 10 4-8 25, Lydia Whaley 5 1-4 11, Deidra Dunkleberger 2 5-6 9, Chloe Jennings 0 0-0 0, Jaid Harsch 2 1-2 5, Janelle Robinson 5 0-0 10, Myeesha Peterson 1 2-2 4, Marissa Peterson 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Bowman 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 13-22 64.
Mansfield18 11 10 7-46
Williamsport8 18 21 17-64
3-pointers: Mansfield 2 (James, J. Hillson); Williamsport 1 (Evans).
Records: Williamsport 5-16. Mansfield 12-7.