For two quarters the Bearcats had the Monarchs mired in the muck and briars of a thorny defense. But Mark Morris made a couple tweaks to their attack midway through their non-league 2A boys basketball contest and wound up running away with a 64-44 victory in the Mint City.
W.F. West and Mark Morris were neck-and-neck out of the gate, with the Bearcats carving out an advantage in the early going while the Monarchs tried to make heads and tails of the long bodies in maroon and white that seemed to be floating in all of their preferred passing lanes.
After eight minutes, the Bearcats led 12-9 and appeared ready to do what they love to do most of all — get out and run the floor looking for wide open dunk opportunities on the fast break.
But Mark Morris had other ideas of how the game would go.
“Defensively I was most happy because with (Carter) McCoy and (Dirk) Plakinger, those are two very athletic kids,” Mark Morris coach Bill Bakamus said. “They play in the air. They run well and I think defensively we did a good job of keeping them very tame.”
Sure, McCoy got loose for a breakaway dunk in the fourth quarter, but by that time the momentum had already swung all the way to the Mark Morris side and there was precious little time to turn things around for the home team. McCoy wound up with eight points for the Bearcats while Plakinger and Soren Dalan finished tied for the team-high with 10 points each.
Bakamus praised Jamison Watson on the wing and Ashton Harvey in the post for the little things they did to make life uncomfortable for the Bearcats on their home hardwood.
“I thought (Ashton) Harvey, even though their player (Dalan) scored a lot of inside points there wasn’t a time that he shot uncontested,” Bakamus said. “Jamison Watson defensively was a standout. He got down in his stance and made it tough on his man.”
With just a two-point lead at the half, and only a handful of practices tucked into their jockstraps, the boys in baby blue were still trying to figure out their paces on the offensive end when they returned to the court from the locker room.
But after a few subtle shifts of positioning and a concerted effort to work their offense through the top of the post, the Monarchs were off and running or, at the very least, they were shooting comfortably from open spots inside the belly of the Bearcats’ zone.
“Obviously, it was a game of two halves as far as how we attacked their zone. Second half was more fluid. It was more precise,” Bakamus explained. “We got the gaps and the angles we wanted and it was more trial and error and sand-lotting. You’ve got some areas in a zone you want to attack and you get the right personnel in those positions and it can be beneficial.”
Deacon Dietz finished with a game-high 18 points, while leading the Monarchs in every other category with eight rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Kobe Parlin kept the Bearcats defense honest by intermittently firing away from long range or cutting to the rack when the pressure overextended and Nate Millspaugh was the primary facilitator up top with an array of shifty ball handling and peripheral vision to spare. Parlin netted 14 points and Millspaugh added 15, with both players dishing four assists.
For the Bearcats, Whalen Deskins added seven points and Cade Haller finished with six, while Max Taylor had two and Gabe Cuestas had one.
It’s the first loss of the early season for the Bearcats, who fall to 1-1 on the season after taking a 55-43 win over Shelton on Monday in their season opener.
W.F. West gets back into 2A Evergreen Conference action when it hosts Aberdeen at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.