The Gonzaga Prep boys basketball team doesn’t completely default to defense, but it’s close.
When the first words out of coach Matty McIntyre’s mouth to his team following the game is about the defense, well one gets the picture.
The Bullpups suffocated 6-foot-9 Shadle Park senior Tanner Groves, the reigning Greater Spokane League most valuable player, and were efficient offensively as visiting Gonzaga Prep cruised past the Highlanders 53-38 Tuesday.
G-Prep (3-0 overall, 2-0 GSL) limited Groves to one basket, two shots and three points. He didn’t attempt a shot from the field in the final two quarters and missed a free throw.
“We knew that we had our hands full,” G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “It’s a tricky combination of how do you handle the post with Graves - he’s so talented down there - without giving up a bunch of open 3-point shots. We were able to find a good balance of mixing it up.”
While the Bullpups clamped down on Groves, the Highlanders (3-1, 1-1) didn’t have an answer for G-Prep’s 6-7 athletic sophomore Anton Watson.
Watson scored a game high 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and added two assists and two steals.
“Coach emphasizes defense, playing hard and getting rebounds,” Watson said. “We wanted to play (Groves) physical and make him uncomfortable.”
Save for the early exchange of baskets, Shadle never seriously threatened. The Highlanders used a 7-0 surge at the end of the second quarter to trim an 11-point deficit to four before Quinn Sestero hit a basket with two seconds left to allow the Bullpups to go into halftime with a 26-20 lead.
G-Prep extended the lead to double digits early in the third quarter and that’s where things stood the final 16 minutes.
Twice the Bullpups led by 16 points in the final period.
Shane Eugenio drew the assignment of guarding Groves the most. He did a good job and added 10 points and five rebounds.
Markeith Brown led Shadle with 18 points.
Watson has started the season on fire.
“He’s taken a huge jump,” McIntyre said. “A lot of that has to do with his strength and just natural maturation with his body and a greater understanding of what we’re trying to do.The experience last year for him was so important. He’s performing like a veteran.”
Said Watson: “I feel more comfortable now as a sophomore with my teammates and coaches. I want to be a leader and help my team win.”
Mt. Spokane 42, Rogers 40: After a first half that saw the teams trade unbalanced quarters, the visiting Wildcats (1-1) held off the Pirates (0-3, 0-2). Rogers jumped out 13-4 before Mt. Spokane outscored the Pirates 12-2 in the second. Justin Smith led the Wildcats with 15 and Cole Riblet paced Rogers with 15.
University 66, North Central 52: Boston Tacke led the visiting Titans (2-2, 1-1) with 16 points past the Indians (0-3, 0-2). Donovan Phillips added 15. Rashawn Lemery led the Indians with 14 points and Leon Sayers added 13.
Ferris 68, Mead 38: Four players reached double figures to lift the visiting Saxons (3-1, 1-1) to the convincing win over the Panthers (1-2, 0-2). Reece Van Lierop had 19 points, Michael Ervin had 14, Shamrock Campbell 13 and Damion Carter 10 for the Saxons.
Lewis and Clark 76, Central Valley 71 2 OT: Diedrick Pakootas, a transfer from Mead, scored six of his team-high 23 points in the second overtime to lift the visiting Tigers (3-1, 2-0) past the Bears (2-1, 1-1). Naje Smith added 21. Ryan Rehkow led the Bears with 23 points.
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