GRANVILLE, Ohio -- DeSales (10-3) travelled to Granville (8-5) on Tuesday for a big out-of-league matchup between two Division II district semifinalists from a year ago. The Stallions , coming in ranked at No. 5 in our area Division II rankings, were challenged by the Blue Aces for much of the first half and made various comeback attempts but were able to pull out a decisive 54-43 road victory over Granville.
The teams traded buckets in the opening period of the game, and the score was tied at the end of the first quarter. The Blue Aces were able to keep it within a one possession game for most of the second quarter until Des Watson drilled a pull-up three from the top of the key with time winding down before the end of the half. DeSales took a 21-16 lead into the break.
While Granville was able to prevent Watson from taking over the game offensively, the guard play of senior Kobe Righter and junior Austin Mann allowed DeSales to grow their lead in the third quarter. Efficient outside shooting by Mann and hustle plays by Righter allowed the Stallions to take a 35-26 advantage into the fourth. The closest Granville was able to get down the stretch of the game was within six points, and DeSales pulled away for a 54-43 win.
Watson led all scorers with 21 points and stuffed the stat sheet with six boards and four assists to go along with a block and a steal. Mann had 15 points that included three threes, and Righter added 12 points.
Granville showed flashes of effectiveness on both ends of the court but were not able to string positive possessions together. Senior Jake Stone led the Blue Aces with 13 points and six boards and had a made three, and sophomore Carsyn Crouch added nine points. Senior Dom Varrasso had seven points that included a made three and senior Brody Ley hit two threes for six points total.
At 10-3, DeSales will look to remain perfect in CCL play on Friday when the Stallions travel to rival Bishop Watterson before hitting the road to Linden-McKinley on Saturday. With both teams ranked in the top 10 in Division II, DeSales will look to compete a difficult week of road matchups against quality D2 opponents.
Losers of three of its last five games, Granville will look to get back to positive momentum on Friday at home against Lakewood.
Des Watson (6’4 WF / DeSales / 2021): Watson has put up huge numbers during his breakout junior season, averaging over 20 points per game, and while it took some time to get his offensive game going against Granville he made his presence felt as the most talented player on the court. Watson is a true three-level scorer but has been able to impose his will inside most effectively with his sturdy 6-foot-5 frame and explosive finishing ability that allows him to get to the rim almost at will and convert at a high rate. This season, Watson has become even more dangerous by adding a ready and reliable jumper to his game that he is able to utilize if his defender gives him too much space in preparation for a drive. Opposing defenses throw many different looks at Watson in attempts to slow him down, including doubling from the backside on any post entry, but Watson is able to do damage as a facilitator in finding the open man in these situations and had four assists. While Watson usually takes over games with his show-stopping athleticism and scoring prowess, the junior showed a mature poise against Granville in impacting every facet of the game and making timely plays, displaying a keen sense for when and where to find his own shot. The talented wing is a force to be reckoned with in the area against any opponent he faces, and will continue to carry a large load of the offense for DeSales as their first option.
Jake Stone (6’1 PG / Granville / 2020): Stone broke onto the scene during his junior season as the focal point of the Blue Aces offensive attack and while he does not carry as great of an offensive load this season, the wiry guard is still the leading playmaker for Granville. The 6-foot-1 guard pairs his length with his high-level agility and looks to make crafty moves to find open space for his shot. Stone is also a talented rebounder and crashes the boards on both ends despite playing mostly from the perimeter. The senior is as intelligent as they come on the court and will have to be instant-offense when needed for the Aces down the stretch as they look to make a run at the Licking County League Buckeye Division title for the fifth season in a row.
Kobe Righter (5’11 PG / DeSales / 2020): The senior has been a big piece to the puzzle for DeSales over the course of his career and has played in many pressure situations as their lead guard, but with the emergence of Watson as a primary scoring option, having Righter as a capable shot maker gives the Stallions an embarrassment of riches on the offensive end. The 5-foot-11 guard is nearly automatic from mid range, and did an incredible job of finding space to get off his shot when his teammates looked to kick the ball out from inside. Righter handles the brunt of DeSales’ ball handling duties and is an efficient playmaker that plays extremely well alongside an elite isolation scorer like Watson. The senior is the on-court leader of this DeSales squad and will be the straw that stirs the drink for the Stallions as they try to make a run at the Division II district title.
Carsyn Crouch (6’2 WF / Granville / 2022): The man tasked with much of the on-ball defensive duties against Des Watson, Crouch played with intensity and quickness that allowed him to prevent DeSales’ primary weapon from completely taking over the game. Crouch is a lanky and athletic wing that mixes things up on both ends and influences the game with his confidence despite being just a sophomore. Crouch does not shy away from taking the contested shot and is as comfortable knocking down a spot-up three as he is carving space on the inside and finishing through contact around the rim. The sophomore is already one of the Blue Ace’s key players and will be looked to for a bigger offensive role as the season continues.
Austin Mann (5’7 PG / DeSales / 2021): Though short in stature, Mann is a confident sharpshooter and crafty playmaker for his DeSales team that makes a big impact on the game from outside. Mann and Righter play with great chemistry in the backcourt, constantly moving and cutting off of screens to confuse defenses and free up their outside shots. Mann is a knock-down three point shooter, making a game-high three triples against Granville, and his perimeter scoring and automatic shooting from the free-throw line will be the X-factor for this DeSales team. The junior has the ability to score in bunches and can light up defenses if they leave him space to get his shot off.
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