William Penn's Ramel Stephens relishes his role.
He may not be among the Bearcats starting five, but coming off the bench suits Stephens just fine.
On Tuesday night, the senior sparked the Bearcats by scoring at least four points in each quarter en route to a game-high 23 points in William Penn's 76-71 win over Central York.
"I like coming off the bench because I get to see the floor more," Stephens said. "I get to see everything before I get into the game. I know where to go and where the soft spots are on the defense."
Stephens scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Bearcats (4-1, 2-0 Division I) held off a terrific effort by the Panthers (2-4, 1-1).
"The last three games, he's scored 14, 19 and now 23," Bearcats head coach Troy Sowers said of Stephens. "I probably never had a kid that got so much better from his junior to senior year.
"It didn't really show the first two games of the season and I thought he was just pressing too much. We talked and he said, 'I'd be OK coming off the bench.' He's stepped into that role well and he gives us crazy energy."
Stephens played at the Salvation Army during the summer and still finds time during the season to practice there.
"I've just worked hard. It's your choice to get better or not," Stephens said. "I worked on my ball handling and shooting and hand-eye coordination."
William Penn held a 56-54 lead after three quarters and the teams battled to a 60-60 tie with 5:15 to play in the game when Central's Andrew Sauers converted a bucket.
But, Stephens' layup at 4:27 began a 9-0 Bearcats run, which stretched the lead to 69-60 with 3:02 remaining.
The Panthers closed within 72-67 with 57 seconds to play on Darian Hampton's 3-pointer. Hampton led Central with 21 points.
But, the Panthers wouldn't get closer than five points in the closing seconds. The Panthers battled back from 10-point deficits three times and held their final lead of the game at 49-48 in the third quarter.
"There was definitely a lot of effort on the floor," Central head coach Kevin Schieler said. "There's little things that we need to fix and I think those little things can make a big difference in a game."
Both teams shot pretty well throughout the game, as the Bearcats were 31-of-60 and the Panthers hit on 31-of-57.
"That was a battle," Sowers said. "Central played an outstanding game. I thought we had shots contested and they still made shots. They shot the ball well."
Andrew Sauers (16 points) and Royce Clemens (10 points) also registered double digits for the Panthers, who never went away.
"I thought we handled some of their runs very well," Schieler said. "They scored seven points in the first minute of the second half and we went right back at them."
Derek Wilson scored 21 points for William Penn and Tavon Parker added 17.
CENTRAL YORK (71)
Hartz 2 0-0 4, Snyder 2 0-0 5, Darian Hampton 8 3-4 21, Andrew Sauers 8 0-0 16, Salter 2 0-0 4, Saxon 4 1-1 9, Royce Clemens 4 0-0 10, Gardner 1 0-0 2. Totals31 8-14 71
WILLIAM PENN (76)
Derek Wilson 9 0-2 21 Casiano 1 2-2 4, Rivera 1 0-0 2, Ramel Stephens 9 5-6 23, Dickson 2 1-2 5, Beard 2 0-0 4, Wilson 0 0-2 0, Tavon Parker 7 0-0 17.
Totals31 4-5 76.
Central York 16 18 20 17 -- 71
William Penn 21 18 17 20 -- 76
3-point goals -- Central York 5 (Hampton 2, Clemens 2, Snider); William Penn 6 (Wilson 3, Parker 3).
J.V. score -- William Penn 68, Central York 65.