More: William Penn ends improbable season, PIAA tournament run

COATESVILLE -- Jahaire Wilson pulled his hoodie over his head and walked out of the William Penn locker room, still emotional after William Penn's season-ending 72-55 loss in the second round of the Class AAAA boys' basketball state tournament.

For him, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

He loved playing on the same team with his older brother, senior Derek Wilson.

"I'm never going to get a chance to play with him again," Wilson said, pausing to wipe his forehead. "This is real tough."

What happened in the first eight minutes of the game can best be described as precision surgery. This wasn't a case of one missed shot. This wasn't a loss by buzzsaw; this wasn't a bigger, faster, stronger team cutting through William Penn's boys' basketball team in the second round of the Class AAAA state tournament. This was controlled, pinpoint offense.

Pass . . . pass . . . pass -- wide-open 3-pointer. St. Joseph's Prep teammates actually passed on open 3-pointers to find another teammate who had a wide open shot.

And when St. Joe's missed -- they rebounded.


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"Everybody was fundamental on that team," William Penn coach Troy Sowers said.

This was a disciplined defense.

St. Joe's forced William Penn to commit nine first-quarter turnovers.

"It was tough, we couldn't really do much," Wilson said. "Perfect man/zone. It was hard to pass the ball, and they were boxing me out."

And so William Penn's season ended after 27 victories to the third-place team in the loaded basketball-powerhouse District 12.

William Penn’s Derek Wilson (1) dribbles around St. Joseph’s Prep’s Steve Vasturia (32) during Wednesday’s PIAA Class AAAA
William Penn's Derek Wilson (1) dribbles around St. Joseph's Prep's Steve Vasturia (32) during Wednesday's PIAA Class AAAA second-round game at Coatesville Area Senior High School. The Bearcats were eliminated in a 72-55 loss. (For the Daily Record/Sunday News -- Jeff Lautenberger)

The Bearcats lose some talented players. Ramel Stephens leaves the program after spending three years on varsity. He posted 10 games in this season where he didn't miss a foul shot. Tavon Parker was a key contributor for three seasons -- appearing in three league championship games and two district finals. Derek Wilson may have been the best athlete on the team, putting on a show with every breakaway he had -- sprinting to the rim for a dunk.

"For me, (the most difficult part is) just missing the kids," Sowers said. "I'm not going to able to coach my seniors again.

"They're like my kids almost. I'm trying to get them into college. . . . The end seems almost like someone died. Although they're going on to bigger and better things, it's just hard."

Still, the William Penn program displayed its promise.

Besides Jahaire Wilson -- for everyone surrounding this program -- this game showed what's right with Bearcats basketball.

The 2012-13 team was a good squad, but it wasn't the year where the winning stopped. This wasn't a once-in-a-lifetime team. This was another year in York. And that's a credit to some of those departing seniors. They made their teammates better. They became what Sowers always wants to see from his kids: A family working to help each other.

Jahaire Wilson is just a sophomore. He earned three and-one buckets in the third quarter. He almost picked up No. 4 against Mr. Notre Dame -- Fighting Irish recruit Steve Vasturia -- in the fourth quarter. Freshman guard Trey Shifflett picked up key minutes in the postseason. Captain Stephen Dickson returns for his senior season.

The 2012-13 season ended at Coatesville High, four victories shy of a state championship. And there's no reason to believe the winning ends this year. Sowers found a group that buys into a team-first mentality, and maybe it didn't pay off against a prep school in March --- but to make it this far as a public school in the big-boy division is saying something. They didn't play for themselves, they played for each other.

"I just go out and ball my hardest, try my best to keep my team winning," Wilson said.

And that's why, even after a disappointing end, there's reason to believe this program can keep winning.