BERWICK It's easy for opponents to lose track of Williamsport's Thomas Ross with three potential Division-I options on the floor for the Millionaires. His teammates, however, know better and understand just where to find arguably the team's best shooter.
And they found the sharpshooter at the most opportune times in a do-or-die situation on Saturday afternoon at the Berwick Middle School.
Ross knocked down three fourth-quarter 3-pointers and helped Williamsport turn away Wyoming Valley West, 67-56, advancing the Millionaires to the District 2-4 Class AAAA championship game.
Williamsport’s Jahad Thomas, left, looks to shoot Saturday vs. Valley West at Berwick.
"We know Ross is one of the better shooters on the team and he can just knock down shots point blank," Williamsport starting guard Isaiah Washington said. "If you leave him open, he is going to make it."
Top-seeded Williamsport (21-2) will play Scranton for the title on Wednesday. A?time and place was not official Saturday night.
Ross has been one of Williamsport's top reserves all season, but understandably is overshadowed by Washington, Chris Kinley and Jahad Thomas on the court. That suits Ross just fine and allows him to get to spots where he is comfortable. Those spots were near the corners of the 3-point line and baseline Saturday.
He made one 3-pointer in front of his bench and another two on the opposite side of the floor but from a similar angle.
"My release point felt right," Ross said. "I got open shots and a little time, so I kept hitting them."
The Millionaires needed every one of the fourth-quarter 3-pointers because Wyoming Valley West, which at one time trailed by 11 points with 4:59 remaining in the game, closed to 58-53 on a Jamie Calloway 3-pointer.
A confident Ross matched him, however, with a catch and release, and Williamsport went back up by eight points before re-establishing its double-digit advantage.
Ross finished with 14 points 11 coming in the second half. He and Calloway combined for six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
"For a while it looked they were back-and-forth," Washington said. "Ross would hit one, (Calloway) would hit one and then Ross would hit one. It seemed that way for a couple of minutes. Every time it seemed (Calloway) would knock one down, Thomas would answer. It was great."
"He's been huge all season," Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. "It seems like he always hits the timely shot, gets a timely steal or timely rebound. He hit that big three down the stretch when it was crunch time.
"The way he was shooting it, he wasn't even looking at the basket. He was just catching and shooting which tells me he is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now."
Calloway finished with 13 points for Valley West (16-9).
The Millionaires, who trailed at the half against Valley West in a game earlier they won earlier this season, scored the game's first five points in the rematch. The Spartans quickly erased that lead and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Larry Anderscavage left Williamsport behind 15-14 after one quarter.
Jahad Thomas turned the game in the second quarter with a defensive play.
Wyoming Valley West's Jaquan Ingram beat his defender at the top of the key and appeared headed for an easy layup when Thomas planted his feet and took a charge. The foul gave Ingram his second with 3:39 remaining in the first half and sent him to the bench until the start of the third quarter. Valley West scored just one field goal the rest of the half and Williamsport built a six-point lead after an 8-2 run.
"Being able to put Ingram in foul trouble was a huge help," Taylor said. "That was part of the game plan going in to make sure we went at him and didn't give him a chance to have a break on the offensive or defensive end. One of two things was going happen. He was going to get into foul trouble or fatigue was going to set in."
Ingram finished with just one field goal and seven points. He picked up a third foul less than two minutes into the second half.
The teams each scored 17 third-quarter points, leaving it a six-point game with eight minutes remaining. Kinley, who sat the majority of the third quarter, scored back-to-back baskets for Williamsport in the fourth quarter and finished with six points during the final eight minutes. He and Ross combined for 15 of Williamsport's 21 fourth-quarter points to help put the game away.
Ross added six rebounds to his 14 points and Thomas added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Washington led all scorers with 18.
Wyoming Valley West (56)
Chris McCue 3 0-0 7, Jamie Calloway 5 0-0 13, Larry Anderscavage 6 0-0 14, Brett Good 2 4-5 9, Evan McCue 1 0-0 2, Husam Abdurruzaq 1 0-2 2, Jaquan Ingram 1 5-6 7, Lucky Williams 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 9-13 56.
Greg Ousley 2 0-0 4, Jahad Thomas 4 2-6 10, Herb Stelly 2 0-1 4, Thomas Ross 5 0-0 14, Isaiah Washington 4 8-11 18, Achilles Watson 4 1-2 9, Brandon Fedoriw 0 0-0 0, Chris Kinley 3 2-2 8, Tyler Gardner 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 13-22 67.
Valley West 15 8 17 16 56
Williamsport 14 15 17 21 67
3-point goals: Valley West 7 (Calloway 3, Anderscavage 2, E. McCue, C. McCue); Williamsport 6 (Ross 4, Washington 2).
Records: Williamsport 21-2, Valley West 16-9.
Next: Williamsport vs. Scranton/Hazleton winner, Wed., TBA.