CANONSBURG – The last time Alexa Williamson exited a basketball game, the mood of Chartiers-Houston’s star player and the rest of her teammates wasn’t positive.
Last week, Williamson fouled out with 6:19 left in the WPIAL title game against Vincentian Academy. With the Bucs within striking range, the 6-2 Temple commit was forced to the bench to watch her team lose 62-47.
When Williamson exited the game Friday night in Chartiers-Houston’s 75-43 win over PIAA Class AA first-round opponent Cambridge Academy, the circumstances couldn’t have been more different.
With about four minutes left in the game, Bucs head coach Laura Montecalvo pulled Williamson with the Bucs leading by nearly 40 points.
“Do you know how many points you scored?” Montecalvo asked Williamson before she could even take a seat on the bench.
Williamson shook her head no, but she thought she had at least 30.
“You just scored 51 points, Alexa,” Montecalvo said with a chuckle.
“I didn’t know I was that close. I didn’t know I scored 50,” Williamson said after the game. “Once I came out and Coach told me, I was pretty shocked. I try to keep it in sometimes, because I don’t want to be cocky, but I was pretty excited.”
Williamson used her Division I size, strength and speed to outjump, outpower and outrun the Blue Devils en route to scoring her career-high 51 points. The senior forward made 21 baskets, all of which came from in the lane, and nine free throws to tally the staggering point total. Williamson’s 51-point night was five points shy of the playoff single-game record for a WPIAL girls player, which occurred 21 years ago when Brooke Stewart of East Allegheny scored 56 points in a WPIAL playoff game.
Montecalvo said the bad taste of last week’s WPIAL title loss “fueled her performance.”
“I was not happy with how I played in the WPIAL (title) game,” Williamson said. “I practiced really hard and stayed after practice a couple times this week and just worked on different things I didn’t do well in the WPIAL (title) game, and I think it paid off.”
It wasn’t just her prolific scoring, though. Williamson also had 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.
“Just as far as all around, she was dominant on both ends of the floor,” Montecalvo said. “Rebounding and defensively, I thought she was great as well.”
Cambridge Springs (21-5), which was the third-place team from District 10, started the game at Canon-McMillan High School with a 9-8 lead halfway through the first quarter.
After C-H (20-6) figured out how to navigate the Blue Devils’ full-court press, the Bucs went on a 10-0 run to take an 18-9 lead. The Bucs led 23-14 after one quarter, with Williamson accounting for 16 of those points.
The second quarter was much of the same with Williamson scoring 13 of Chartiers-Houston’s 17 points as the Bucs led 40-24 at halftime.
With the Blue Devils scoring only six points in the third quarter, the Bucs were able to grab long rebounds and throw outlet passes to a streaking Williamson in transition. C-H took a 60-40 lead into the fourth quarter.
“She has great speed for a 6-1 center, and that’s very hard to come by,” Montecalvo said. “I think she has a really good knack for knowing when to get out, and she gets behind the defense before they knows she’s there. Then the length of her stride, she only needs four strides from half court sometime, so it’s hard to catch up.”
While Williamson outscored the Blue Devils in the game, Montecalvo said if it weren’t for “fantastic passes” from other senior starters Macy Mazutis, Madison Simpson, Jules Vulcano and Keaira Walker, Williamson’s big night wouldn’t have happened.
“Credit to (them) for all knowing just when to throw that pass,” Montecalvo said. “Even in the half court, getting the ball inside when we needed to. They’ve improved, and their improvement is what we needed, and they showed it tonight.”
In the second round Tuesday night, Chartiers-Houston will take on District 6 champion Bishop McCort (20-6), which defeated Greensburg Central Catholic 54-38 last night.