South Western’s Jamahn Lee, right, drives past William Penn’s Ramel Stephens on his way to the hoop during Thursday’s YAIAA boys’
South Western's Jamahn Lee, right, drives past William Penn's Ramel Stephens on his way to the hoop during Thursday's YAIAA boys' basketball championship game at York College's Grumbacher Center. William Penn won, 59-52. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Kate Penn)

More: William Penn wins YAIAA boys' basketball championship

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The Bearcat wearing the No. 1 marched to the far end of the court. The first William Penn player to complete postgame handshakes, Derek Wilson waited near the basket for the rest of his teammates, his gold medal and a net-cutting ceremony.

Tavon Parker greeted him a moment later, and the two juniors slapped hands and embraced. Wilson laughed when asked about their conversation. It was short and to the point.

"District championship next -- to the Giant Center," Wilson said smiling.

And why not?

The Bearcats aren't anyone's favorite. Not with a five-guard starting lineup. Not when other district teams have already beaten the Bearcats. But call it a Napoleon complex, these Bearcats aren't conceding anything to those bigger teams.

William Penn keeps winning, recording its 15 consecutive victory -- and the school's first YAIAA championship since 2009 after losing title games in 2011 and 2010 -- with a 59-52 victory against South Western.

The credit can be dished out in any number of ways.

But Thursday night, a big part of William Penn's ho-hum, workmanlike win had to do with Wilson. And no, he's not the typical, everyday star for the Bearcats. Most fans would point to one of the 1,000-point scorers, Dejian Williams or C.


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J. Smith. Others might point to Parker, a defensive stopper who can also shoot the trey. Or even long-range shooting threat Na'Shon DeShields.

Wilson's a different type of player.

His worth on the floor can't always be calculated by what he does. If a shooter has a good game, it can be calculated in buckets. Wilson isn't that type of player. Not this year at least.

His effort can more easily be measured on how he handcuffs the opposition. A good night for Wilson can be measured by how much frustration he dishes out in the opposition's offensive game plan.

"Derek is a really integral part of what we do, because he's our on-the-ball defender," William Penn coach Troy Sowers said.

"We want him to lock down opposing point guards, but when he gets out in transition he's a really good finisher because he jumps so high and he has long arms. ... I thought we made (South Western guard Mike) Duffy work all night, and that was the intent: Try to wear him down as the game went on."

On top of that, Wilson managed to match South Western's best player on the offensive end. Both Wilson and 6-foot-5 Parker Bean each scored a game-high 18 points.

Everyone around the league seems to know Bean. Big kid. Big scorer. Big rebounder.

Wilson doesn't fit the same mold.

He's been held out of games. He's been pulled from the starting lineup.

"He's kind of hyper, on the court, off the court," Sowers said. "He's a little jitterbug, and sometimes that gets the best of him. He might talk a little bit in class and move around in class. He has a great heart, and that's why I love him.

"But we still have team rules and ... I think he realizes you have to put in the effort on the court off the court, everywhere."

Other players might have pitched a fit over the off-and-on starting role.

Wilson kept working.

"I wanted to focus on the team," Wilson said. "We all know each other, we're all good friends, we all play together all the time."

True, he might not be the first player fans notice in the first quarter, but he has a knack of making them smile in the final minutes.

And the league title game was no different. William Penn looked to be in command, until 3:29 remained and South Western had sliced a 12-point deficit in half. William Penn had been held without a field goal for the first five minutes of the fourth.

It had that funky feel to it. Maybe South Western could pull off this upset after all. But a turnover sprung Wilson, and he rushed down the court for a breakaway dunk -- the first of two in the final three minutes of the game.

"That's my little brother," Parker said about Wilson. "It's his first year of varsity. I said this is our first championship, his first of many. He's still young, and he's still coming along. He used to wear his emotion on his sleeve, but he's starting to control that. You can just see it as the season has gone on. He's starting to mature (as a player)."
Jim Seip is a sports reporter for the Daily Record/Sunday News. Reach him at 771-2025 or jseip@ydr.com.