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Suffocating defense allows Gonzaga Prep to control Shadle Park

Jan. 13, 2017 Updated Sat., Jan. 14, 2017 at 12:02 a.m.

By Kevin Dudley Correspondent

If it works the first time, you might as well try it again the second time around.

For the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups, “it” was controlling Shadle Park’s Tanner Groves, the Greater Spokane League’s reigning MVP – and “it” worked again in G-Prep’s 65-48 win over the visiting Highlanders.

The win gives the Bullpups sole possession of first place and a 10-1 record in league play. The Highlanders sit in second place with a 9-2 league record.

G-Prep put a muzzle on Shadle’s top scorer, limiting Groves to nine points. Groves had three points in a Dec. 6 loss to G-Prep.

Groves picked up two fouls within the game’s first 3 minutes and found himself on the bench.

“Once he picked up that first quick one, we wanted to go right after him,” G-Prep head coach Matty McIntyre said. “It was pretty big to get him on the bench for most of the first quarter.”

But even without Groves on the floor, the Highlanders kept pace with the Bullpups. G-Prep held a 27-24 lead at halftime.

The Highlanders had to rely mostly on guards Andreas Brown and Markieth Brown. Both finished with 12 points to lead the way for the Highlanders.

G-Prep used its depth to its advantage and had four players in double figures. Anton Watson led the way with 14 points, while Shaedon Byrd came off the bench and put in 13 points.

G-Prep also found itself in foul trouble early, with Watson needing to sit early in the second quarter after picking up his second foul.

That’s where the Bullpups’ depth came in handy on both sides of the court.

“We kind of just rode it out the whole way,” McIntyre said. “Jamaari Jones did an exceptional job. He’s giving up 7 inches to (Groves). I thought he battled and competed his tail off against a kid that’s a lot bigger than him.”

Jones’ work didn’t show up in the stat sheet, but he was constantly one of two or three defenders who hounded Groves with double and triple teams.

The Bullpups pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring the frame’s first six points and frustrating the Highlanders’ offense. Byrd scored six of his 13 points in the final quarter.

The game was meaningful given the ramifications in the standings, but McIntyre knows there are a lot of games ahead.

“I’d by lying if I said it was just another game, but they’re all important from here on out,” McIntyre said. “The beauty of it is we control our own destiny and that’s really all you can ask for at this point.”

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