From here on out, defenses are going to double- and triple-team Gonzaga Prep’s Anton Watson in an effort to limit the damage the Gonzaga-bound senior does to them.
For the first three quarters on Monday, Ferris did a pretty good job on the 6-foot-9 Watson, falling back on defense and making him kick the ball out to a teammate to reset the offense.
But Watson asserted himself in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 of his game-high 22 points, and the visiting Bullpups outlasted the Saxons 52-41.
Gonzaga Prep (13-2, 9-0) stayed undefeated in the Greater Spokane League, while Ferris dropped its third straight in league play (10-5, 5-4).
It’s the second straight game G-Prep found some tough sledding, after a six-point win over last-place Lewis and Clark on Friday.
Watson said with all the options the Bullpups have on offense, they can’t let other teams dictate how they play on offense.
“I’m not going to get frustrated,” he said. “As a team we can get frustrated because that’s going to happen the whole season. We just got to work through it.”
G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre thought the answer to teams packing the paint against his offense is pretty simple.
“I think we continue to assert our will,” he said. “However tight the zone gets, or if people pack it in man-to-man, you still have to get a post touch. They don’t have to shoot it. But we’ve got to get guys in the right spots to get the ball attacking the basket.
“And I have all the confidence in the world. Let Liam (Lloyd) and our shooters shoot once the ball’s been touched in the post.”
Lloyd and Carter Sonneborn added eight points apiece.
It was a tough defensive struggle on both ends to start, with Ferris trying to limit Watson’s touches. Noah Drynan came off the bench and made a couple of baskets at the end of the first to put the Pups up 15-8 after one.
“Whoever we play they’re just going to try to make me flustered and turn the ball over,” Watson said. “So I just have to get my teammates open shots and hope they’re making a bunch.”
Lloyd popped a 3-pointer from the corner, then came up with a steal and went the distance and G-Prep opened a 14-point lead midway through the second. Lloyd hit another 3 late and G-Prep led 33-16 at intermission.
“I thought actually offensively in the first half we had a good rhythm,” McIntyre said. “Ball was going inside-out, we took open shots, we kept the game simple.”
Ferris scored the first six points of the third quarter to get within 11, but Watson got loose in the lane for a two-handed dunk to stop the short run. Kellen Erickson and Mark McCullough both hit floaters at the end of the quarter to cut Ferris’ deficit to 37-30 as the Saxons outscored G-Prep 14-4 in the frame.
“We’re still trying to put a full 32 minutes together and so that gives us something to work towards during practice,” McIntyre said.
Watson took over early in the fourth. He converted a three-point play on the first possession of the frame, then scored on a short turnaround jumper and followed his own miss with a tap-in to extend the G-Prep lead to 47-34 with just under 4 minutes to go.
Watson drained a 3 just before the possession horn with 1:15 left to make it a 14-point advantage again.
“In the third quarter when things kind of got away from us, and even a little bit in the fourth quarter, we got a little reckless with the ball – we didn’t value it,” McIntyre admitted. “And then, of course, some of our turnovers led to some easy baskets for them on the other end.
“That kind of stuff snowballs, but it’s a good learning experience and we’ll get better from it.”
Kellen Erickson led Ferris with 13 points. The Bullpups held Saxons leading scorer Reece Van Lierop to five points.
“(Lloyd) did a good job in the first half and just locking him up the whole game,” Watson said. “Second half we decided to switch on him. I think we just ended up trying to get him out of his groove so I think we did a good job of doing that.”
“He is a very, very dangerous shooter, so we just tried to make life as difficult as possible for him. But he can put up points in a hurry. “
Gonzaga Prep 59, Ferris 52: Leah Carney scored 18 points, including four straight free throws with less than a minute to play, and the Bullpups (10-5, 5-4) topped the Saxons (6-9, 1-8).
Lakin Gardner scored 14 points for Gonzaga Prep, which solidified its hold on the fourth and final seed from the GSL to the District 8 tournament with five games to play.
Laney Erickson led Ferris with 14 points and Mayson Younger added 10.
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