While the boys basketball teams of Williamstown High and Wood County Christian School had scrimmaged each other in the past, regular-season games between the Yellowjackets and Wildcats were not scheduled until this season.
Last Saturday afternoon, WHS made the short trek from 219 W. 5th Street to the WCCS gym at 113 W. 9th Street, and defeated the Wildcats, 52-48, in a contest that wasn't decided until the final seconds.
Good to see two schools that close geographically finally playing each other - and hopefully on an annual basis.
Wood County Christian is slated to play at the Williamstown High gym Monday, Jan. 24. And, if the first meeting is any indicator, it could be another down-to-the wire finish.
Going into Saturday's game, WCCS - the defending West Virginia Christian Athletic Tournament (WVCAT) champion - owned a 9-2 overall record and was coming off a triumph at Trimble in Gloucester, Ohio, Thursday.
"I'm pretty excited about what we got this year," said veteran Wood County Christian coach Dan Ellis. "We've played a tough schedule so far. We came up with a big win at Trimble, and they've got a nice team."
Another one of the Wildcats' wins this season was an impressive 62-51 victory over St. Marys High in the Paden City Tournament on Dec. 18, 2010.
Last Thursday, Williamstown played St. Marys in Pleasants County, and was pounded by its Little Kanawha Conference North rival 77-41.
"We played very poorly and St. Marys played very well," said WHS head coach Scott Sauro. "I mean, St. Marys is very good."
Sauro also believed that about Wood County Christian and naturally had some concerns. Could the Yellowjackets bounce back from the SMHS beatdown?
It didn't take long for the Williamstown boss to realize that his Jacket team could indeed play with the Wildcats. At halftime, the Yellowjackets led 29-19, and in the third quarter stretched their advantage to 18 points.
But late in the third, the momentum shifted, and WCCS staged a comeback which carried over into the fourth quarter.
"They're a good team, so they're going to make shots and make plays," Sauro said. "I think they felt a sense of urgency there in the second half.
"You could say to keep attacking, but when you're out there and you got the lead...and you're thinking maybe I shouldn't take this shot or not. It's human nature to try to be more careful. And, because they (WCCS) have such a good team, they were able to make that run there."
"Fortunately, we were able to step up and withstand that run," the Yellowjacket coach said.
Good fortune indeed, especially at the foul lane in the waning seconds.
With Williamstown up 49-48 with 9.4 second left in the game, Yellowjacket junior Chase Brown converted the front end of a one-and-one to make it 50-48.
But he misfired on the second shot.
Now, if Wood County Christian got the rebound, it had an opportunity to tie or even win the game in the closing seconds. But, somehow 6-foot-1 WHS non-starter Ben Amos was able to tip the missed foul shot back to Brown, who was immediately fouled by the Wildcats.
This time, Brown was able to bury both freebies. Game over.
"That's the breaks of the game," Ellis said. "You've got to make your breaks sometimes, and we came up just a little bit short today."
After the game, Sauro couldn't say enough good things about 6-4 senior Cory Metz, who only had three points in the contest.
"Cory Metz might have been our most valuable player today," Sauro said. "He did a great (defensive) job on Jacob Ungar.
"I really don't want to understate that, because if that kid does what he normally does...he normally scores 20 or some points, and he only had eight. We put it on Cory Metz's shoulders, and he did the job. I was real happy about that."
Looks like the beginnings of a nice, friendly rivalry in the community of Williamstown.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org