Jaelin Williams scores six of 23 total points in a crucial stretch in fourth quarter, hits five foul shots in overtime to lead Shawnee to win.
SPRINGFIELD — Players, coaches, and fans agree that Jaelin Williams is the leader of the Shawnee Braves team.
And when the Braves were trailing 50-43 in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division game against rival Kenton Ridge at Shawnee with less than three minutes left in regulation, they looked to their leader.
Williams didn’t disappoint.
The 6-5 senior guard scored eleven of his 23 points in the final seven minutes of an overtime game to help lead Shawnee to a 66-61 come-from-behind win over the Cougars (4-5, 1-3 CBC Kenton Trail) last night. The game was a makeup of a game originally scheduled on Dec. 21 that was postponed due to inclement weather.
Williams scored six straight points in a stretch late in the fourth quarter to bring Shawnee (8-1, 4-0) from a seven-point deficit to a one-point deficit at 50-49. Williams also shot five-of-six from the free-throw line in overtime to help secure the win for Shawnee.
“Jaelin’s the leader of our team,” Shawnee head coach Chris McGuire said after the game. “He’s a great player and does a lot of different things well, and these guys look to him. He’s kind of a calming guy; he doesn’t really change emotion and stays relaxed. And these guys know he’s capable of doing a lot of good things for us. So anytime we get the ball in his hands, our guys get comfortable.”
Shawnee’s run started with 2:47 left in the second quarter, when Williams hit two foul shots to bring Shawnee within five points. Williams then made two straight baskets off of Kenton Ridge turnovers over the next minute to cut the Cougars’ lead to one point.
Kenton Ridge’s Carl Justice was called for a personal foul with 1:39 left, after which Kenton Ridge head coach Kris Spriggs was called for a technical foul, giving Shawnee four free throws and possession of the ball after the foul shots. Jalen Nelson missed Shawnee’s first two free throw attempts, and Jaden Greenwood missed the first foul shot of his two attempts. Greenwood made his second shot, however, to tie the game at 50-50.
Spriggs said after the game that he was called for a technical foul for being out of the coach’s box, which he denied.
“You get some calls, you don’t get some calls,” Spriggs said. “It helped us that Shawnee only made one of those free throws, but they got the one shot they needed to send it to overtime. It’s a tough one. But my hat is off to my kids for how they played the rest of the way. They busted their butts.”
Shawnee’s Andrew Young scored a basket in Shawnee’s resulting possession with 1:27 left, but was called for a technical foul for taunting after the shot. Jaden Greenwood made the two resulting free throws for Kenton Ridge, which tied the game at 52-52.
Williams missed a shot for Shawnee with two seconds left, which forced overtime.
McGuire said after the game that he wanted Williams to take the last shot of regulation.
“We set up that play at the end for him to take it,” McGuire said. “I thought we got a decent look on it.”
Shawnee scored the first six points of the overtime period. Jalen Nelson made a basket thirty seconds into the overtime period to give the Braves the lead, and Williams made two free throws thirty seconds later to extend Shawnee’s lead to 56-52. Kenton Ridge never came closer than a four-point deficit the rest of the game.
In addition to Williams, the Braves were also aided by Nelson, who scored 15 points.
“Today was his birthday, and he was feeling it,” McGuire said of Nelson. “He was more aggressive tonight. He’s fitting into his role. He’s sneaky athletic. When teams focus in on Jaelin Williams, other guys have to step up. And Jalen Nelson was assertive tonight.”
McGuire credited Shawnee’s defense for creating late turnovers to allow the Braves to erase the seven-point deficit.
“We put a little more pressure on them and we tried to increase the tempo with about three minutes left,” McGuire said. “We created some turnovers and were able to get some easy baskets off of it and some free throws.
“There in the late third and early fourth quarters, they had slowed us down (on defense) and were able to run whatever they wanted to (on offense) and wait for us to break down, which we were, and capitalize on good shots. Once we got them to speed up, it created a little bit more momentum for us once we got a couple of turnovers and a couple of buckets our way.”
Williams, who is averaging 21.3 points per game this season, played the entire game for Shawnee. Young finished with 11 points for Shawnee, and Jaden Greenwood added 11 points for the Braves.
Shawnee outscored Kenton Ridge 12-2 in the last four minutes of the first quarter and led 17-6 at the end of the quarter. Shawnee was ahead 29-16 with thirty seconds left in the second before Jordan Goodfellow hit two late baskets to bring the Cougars within nine points at halftime.
Kenton Ridge continued to eat away at Shawnee’s lead in the third quarter. A three-pointer from Carl Justice with 3:42 left in the third quarter gave the Cougars their first lead of the night at 38-36, and they wouldn’t trail again until Young’s basket late in the fourth quarter.
Spriggs credited Kenton Ridge’s defense with creating turnovers for providing a spark on offense.
“I think our comeback started in the second quarter,” Spriggs said. “We started getting a little more aggressive getting to the basket. We got our energy flowing and good things happened for us. My kids just busted their butts; they left it all on the floor.”
McGuire said Kenton Ridge’s pressure affected Shawnee’s offense.
“Starting their late in the second quarter, they seemed to be doing everything right and we were making mistake after mistake,” McGuire said. “We relaxed, they got momentum, and once they got the momentum, we couldn’t get it back. They did a great job of executing and putting more pressure on us. Everything kind of collapsed on us there late in the second and in the third quarter.”
Spriggs said Shawnee replicated Kenton Ridge’s run when the Braves made their comeback.
“When the other team’s down, they’ve got to make something happen,” Spriggs said. “We got in a situation where we got some five second calls and made some turnovers that (Shawnee) was able to convert. They turned the table on us.”
Goodfellow led Kenton Ridge with 13 points, while Justice added ten points. Both Aaron Davis and Jonah Colvin added nine points each for the Cougars.
“We’re a team, we play ten guys, and when you’re called on to do your duty, you step out there and play to the best of your ability,” Spriggs said. “That’s what the kids have done. I give a lot of credit to my kids for not laying down early and keep on fighting tonight.”
The Braves are tied for first place in the Kenton Trail Division with Tecumseh, as both teams have 4-0 conference records. Shawnee hosts the Arrows in a key conference game on Friday. Tecumseh head coach Roger Culbertson was in attendance scouting Shawnee, as were several Tecumseh players.
McGuire said the Braves will quickly turn their focus on the Arrows.
“Tonight was a good example that, in this league, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” McGuire said. “If you’re playing a conference game, you’d better come to play and play well. Otherwise, you’re open to get beat.”
Tecumseh at Shawnee will be broadcast live Friday on the Top Billing Sports Network.