William Penn head coach Clovis Gallon discusses the team's 72-64 win over Spring Grove Friday. Matt Allibone
Jacquez Casiano and his teammates had heard all the talk.
That this was going to be a down year for William Penn. That the Bearcats couldn't overcome losing last season's top three scorers and still have a successful season. That they'd been overtaken as the class of Division I.
Traveling Friday night to take on defending league champion Spring Grove, Casiano and the Bearcats made a statement. William Penn (2-2, 1-1) got off to a fast start and eventually rallied for a 72-64 win against the Rockets (2-1, 0-1). The win broke a two-game losing streak for the Bearcats.
"That's what motivates us the most, that people think we're going to have a down year," Casiano said. "We're working hard all the time. We want to win this county, so we take every game in the county very serious."
Casiano led William Penn with 17 points and hit the game-clinching free throws with 16 seconds remaining. With the Bearcats clinging to a three-point lead, Spring Grove called a timeout it didn't have. The technical foul sent Casiano to the line, and the senior made the Rockets pay by hitting both shots.
Minutes before, Spring Grove head coach James Brooks had asked an official whether Spring Grove still had a timeout remaining. He thought he'd been told yes.
"We'll have that straightened out, but it's just a costly mistake that shouldn't happen," Brooks said.
Still, it was William Penn's all-around team effort that sealed the win. The Bearcats got points from 10 players, with only two reaching double-digits. Junior guard Kyree Generett scored 14 points off the bench, and sophomore Clovis Gallon Jr. scored nine, including two clutch 3-pointers that tied the score in the fourth quarter.
The Bearcats also showed impressive poise, coming back from down five at the end of the third. William Penn led by eight at halftime, but the Rockets stormed back with a strong third quarter.
"I can't remember the last time York High had a team this deep," head coach Clovis Gallon said. "We have four kids come off the bench that played with us in summer leagues that started there. When we have kids come off the bench, there's no drop-off."
The Bearcats spent most of the game double- or triple-teaming Spring Grove star Eli Brooks, but the Michigan commit still scored 33 points and led the Rockets' third-quarter rally. Spring Grove struggled offensively in the final minutes as the Bearcats swarmed Brooks.
While Spring Grove suffered its first loss of the season, James Brooks said he thinks the Rockets will be fine.
"I never take anything as a negative, it's a growing experience," Brooks said. "We didn't go undefeated last season and we still won the county (title)."