While heading to York College for Friday night's YAIAA championship, Troy Sowers called an old player for some advice.
Chemin Lambert played in a few league finals for Sowers. Just five years removed from his last trip to the Grumbacher Center, Lambert said, "Make sure your kids value every second."
Sowers' current Bearcats heeded that message, pulling away from Central York in the final eight minutes of a 58-45 victory.
"I don't think we did that last year," Sowers said. "We won two straight and thought, 'OK, we'll win three straight.' It doesn't happen that way."
Jahaire Wilson found that out.
Two years ago as a sophomore, Wilson looked at his gold medal and proclaimed he wanted two more. Central (18-7) ruined that goal last year in a lopsided championship game that still resonated with many of the Bearcats.
Wilson said Friday night he was not one of them, but his play suggested otherwise: 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks — all while coming off the bench.
Sowers hugged him tightly for a moment during Wilson's turn to receive a gold medal.
"We needed him this game," Sowers said before adding, "We needed everybody."
William Penn (21-4) won its third title in four seasons. The Bearcats were in their seventh straight league tournament final, but went about it in a different manner than in previous trips.
Sowers and assistant Clovis Gallon devised a plan not to press beyond their half-court defense.
"I don't know if anybody in this gym would come and think York High's not going to press one time," Sowers said, "but they have four guys that can handle (the ball), so we're just losing energy."
The Bearcats' last loss came Jan. 23 at Central, 75-64, when the Panthers prevented them from clinching a regular-season Division I crown. This time on a longer college court, Sowers wanted to turn Central into a jump-shooting team while conserving his players' energy.
Central shot 17-of-48, cooling after senior guard Sam Saxton hit his fourth and final 3-pointer of the night. The defending champs never led and tied the score on only two occasions. Saxton, who finished with a game-high 19 points, pulled Central within 36-33 on his final 3 late in the third quarter.
The margin dwindled to just a point before William Penn seized momentum. Montrel Morgan capped a 14-2 run by slicing around Central defenders and to the basket.
"We did a poor job in transition," Panthers coach Kevin Schieler said. "We did a much better job of getting back and slowing them down last time."
Morgan smiled and credited William Penn's defensive plan.
A first-year player at William Penn, he admitted to early jitters while playing in front of a standing-room only crowd. Neither nerves nor fatigue got to him by the conclusion.
"Last time we pressed and opened up the middle a lot," Morgan said.
Not this time with Wilson fluttering around the basket.
The 6-foot-4 senior served as the ignition to William Penn's transition game. To put an exclamation on the effort, Morgan threw Wilson an alley-oop in the final 70 seconds. Wilson was given a technical foul for hanging on the rim, which drew a chorus of boos and an ejection of one fan.
The delay just gave time for Wilson and his teammates to take in the moment, a chance to take the advice of Sowers' former player and value each second.
Wilson took it in after a mob of TV cameras converged onto him during the post-game celebration. Once it subsided back in a hallway near the locker room, Wilson looked down at his medal, content with just two after missing one last year.
"We had that sour taste in our mouth," he said, "and did what we do."
TICKETS >> There will be no presale tickets for William Penn's upcoming District 3 first-round game, athletic director Joe Chiodi said.
Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.
CENTRAL YORK (45)
Falci 0 0-0 0, Shaffer 1 1-2 4, Sam Saxton 7 1-2 19, Wagner 2 0-0 6, Charlie Gingrich 6 1-2 13, Markey 1 0-0 3, Luckenbaugh 0 0-0 0, Marino 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 17 3-6 45.
WILLIAM PENN (58)
Montrel Morgan 5 0-0 10, Shifflett 3 0-0 7, Shaw 3 1-3 7, Kristopher Johnson 4 0-0 10, Smallwood 3 0-0 6, Jahaire Wilson 6 4-4 16, Boxley 0 0-0 0, Casiano 0 2-2 2.
Totals — 24 7-9 58.
Central York11101410—45William Penn17101120—58
3-point goals — CY 8 (Saxton 4, Wagner 2, Shaffer, Markey), WP 3 (Johnson 2, Shifflett).