For the first four minutes of Highland’s road sectional contest against Bishop Watterson in the Division II basketball playoffs, the Scots were able to play their opponents evenly, holding a 7-6 lead.
Scot coach Chris Powell probably wishes he had a “do-over” for the remaining 28 minutes of the contest. Watterson took control of the game with a 25-0 run that stretched into the final moments of the second period and never looked back in winning by a 58-25 margin to end Highland’s season with a 14-9 record.
“They’re big and long and they packed it in and made us a jump-shooting team,” said Powell. “It’s tough to score against those guys.”
A three-pointer by Kaleb Phillips and baskets by Chris Branham and Chase Carpenter staked the Scots to a 7-6 lead with 4:40 left in the opening period. However, they would not score again until Branham tallied another basket with 1:11 left in the half. During that 11:29 span of time, Watterson scored 25 points to take a commanding lead.
They would finish the half with a bucket to lead 33-9 at the intermission and continued to pour it on in the third period, scoring the first two baskets. Andrew Wheeler connected from the field to make the score 37-11, but those would be Highland’s only points of the quarter as their opponents opened up a 49-11 lead.
Phillips hit a pair of three-pointers in the fourth quarter, but the team would not get any closer than 52-25 in the game, as Watterson advanced in the tournament.
After the game, Powell noted that one thing that might need tinkered with is his team’s late-season schedule. Their final regular-season game, against Northmor, came 15 days before their tournament outing and they had nearly a full week between that contest and their previous tilt.
“We had, counting our last regular season game, three weeks of practice with one game,” he said. “We brought in alumni and mixed things up, but maybe we’ll get a scrimmage or have an additional back-end game.”
Phillips put in nine points on three three-pointers to lead Highland. He, along with Branham and Cody Holtrey, will graduate after this school year, so while the Scots will have a lot returning, they’ll also have to replace some holes in their line-up.
“A big focus has been developing the depth of the program,” said Powell. “I’d like to have a handful of seniors leave every year because that means they’re sticking around and developing, but there will definitely be a big hole left by them.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS