Matthew Williams knew exactly how many points he needed to get to 1,000 on Thursday, but rather than forcing a shot every time he got the ball, the Southwestern senior instead did what he always does, let the game come to him and take the points when they came.
That strategy paid off in spades. Needing 19 points to reach the milestone, Williams nearly achieved that goal in the first quarter as the Rebels rolled to a 101-34 win over county and conference rival Shawe at home.
Williams scored 13 points in a first quarter that saw Southwestern jump out to a 28-2 lead and got the next six points quickly in the second period. The 1,000th-point came on a free throw with 6:39 left before halftime, after which he flashed a huge smile and got plenty of hugs from his teammates.
“I was just having fun. I was just playing like I always do,” said Williams, still beaming 20 minutes after the game. “I’m really happy because it’s been such a loooong road back. To finally get it, my heart feels good.”
Williams was on pace to blow by the 1,000-point mark early in his junior season, but a knee injury in just the fifth game derailed his season and sent him to the sidelines. Healthy but not yet 100%, Williams has started every game this season and has heated up over the past two weeks as the Rebels have caught fire as a team.
“I’m super proud of that kid. He has worked his tail off,” Southwestern coach Zac Nussbaum said. “He’s one of hardest workers I’ve ever had and to come back from that injury and really buy into the change that we’re using him has just been phenomenal to watch. I’m very proud of him.”
Williams finished Thursday’s game with 24 points but he played only 14 minutes as the Rebels took care of Shawe quickly.
Nussbaum subbed early and often and, as a result, no starter played more than 20 minutes and nine different players and everybody in uniform hit the floor.
Southwestern (9-1, 1-1 Ohio River Valley) scored the first 15 points of the game largely by feeding Williams inside and, despite the substitutions, never slowed down. After Williams reached his milestone, the rest of the game was anti-climatic.
For Shawe coach Dan Hambrick, the game was another chance to work with his young squad while facing one of the better teams in the state. Hambrick said he never really looked at the scoreboard, instead preferring to treat the game almost like an active scrimmage.
“You’re not going to find a better team in southern Indiana than that one. They’ve got shooters, they crash the board and they were beating us up and down the floor like nobody’s business,” Hambrick said. “I told our guys, let’s run our offense, run it, run it and run it. We’re trying to build on each game and every possession. I understand we’re young and the hand that we’ve been dealt, but if we can stay healthy, we’ll get better.”
No Hilltopper reached double figures in scoring with Grayson May’s nine points leading the way. Phillip Kahn scored eight and Davis Grote had seven for Shawe (1-2, 0-2 ORVC), which shot just 28% (10-for-28) from the floor for the game. Williams led five Rebels in double figures, three of whom came off the bench.
Freshman Jamison Lewis scored a career-high 13 points, Parker Davis had 12 and Colton Cloud added 11 for the Rebels. Regular starters Austin Kramer added 11 points while senior Foster Mefford took only one shot and did not score, instead preferring to set up his teammates while dishing out five assists to just one turnover and grabbing eight rebounds.
Both teams had games canceled this weekend due to COVID-19 concerns, Southwestern at South Decatur on Friday and Shawe at Providence today. Southwestern returns to action on Tuesday when it heads to New Albany and Shawe travels to Trinity Lutheran next Friday.