Tom Fraher doesn’t need to look at the tape and he didn’t go into any elaborate explanation about defensive schemes or offensive sets. The longtime Mount St. Michael basketball coach explained his team’s solid second half in a 78-55 victory against Curtis HS in the PSAL-CHSAA Challenge Sunday at Baruch College in two words.
“Will Williams,” Fraher said.
Williams is the Mountaineers floor general, the team’s senior point guard. “He’s our backbone, our heart,” Mount guard Pete Aguilar said.
Williams is also undeclared and hoping to secure a college scholarship. Knowing there were several college coaches sitting atop the bleachers at Baruch, Williams was tight and tried to do too much in the first half.
He had no points, two assists and three turnovers and the Mountaineers led by just two at the break.
“Will didn’t play well in the first half,” Fraher said. “He gets out of his game once in a while. It’s very simple – Williams plays well, we play well.”
Buoyed by a Fraher pep talk in the locker room, Williams came out in the third quarter and showed what makes him one of the best pure point guards in the CHSAA ‘A’ league. He had 11 points and five assists in the second half alone, as Mount (5-0) outscored Curtis, 50-29 in the final two quarters.
“He just told me to calm down, be me and really just run the team,” Williams said. “I knew I was getting a little antsy so I just calmed down, ran the team and controlled the game.”
Aguilar was again the leading scorer for Mount with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting. The 6-foot-2 sophomore, playing on a big stage for the first time in his high-school career, was unstoppable on the baseline.
“After we got the nervousness out, we started to pick it up and get out on breaks and did what we had to do to win,” Aguilar said.
for the Mount, scoring 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
“He’s another ball handler and a kid who can score,” Fraher said. “Last year, we needed Nigel and Willie to score a lot and we don’t need that this year. We need him to take care of the ball…He’s a spot-up shooter who hit two threes in the corner on kicks by Willie.”
Curtis was led by enigmatic big man Halil Kanacevic, who had a game-high 25 points and seven rebounds off the bench. But the 6-foot-8 undeclared senior forward was also sloppy with the ball and lackadaisical at times, finishing with seven turnovers.
The most telling example came in the third quarter when Kanacevic had an open layup, but appeared to go for a reverse dunk. He slowed on his approach, though, and ended up with an embarrassing miss. The big man then fouled on the rebound, earning a seat back on the Curtis bench.
Michael Baloqun had 12 points and Jonathan Annan added 10 for Curtis, which fell to 2-3. Gary Acquah had eight points and six boards for the Mountaineers, which outrebounded Curtis, 36-26.