CHILLICOTHE, Ohio -- It was over before it even started.
Locking in from the opening tip, DeSales senior Des Watson left no doubt who would win the Division II regional final between the Stallions and Meadowbrook on Saturday at Southeastern High School in Chillicothe.
Watson went off for 30 points in a 58-44 drubbing that was not as close as the score suggested.
Connecting on his first three three-point shots and scoring 13 points in the opening quarter, Watson helped DeSales blow past the overmatched Colts in the first half.
After leading 19-12 after a quarter of play, Watson and the Stallions revved up in the second quarter, getting out into transition and punishing Meadowbrook to the tune of a 22-5 period. Watson had two powerful dunks while fellow senior and tournament hero Obed Achirem had one of his own, lifting DeSales to a 41-17 halftime lead.
With 21 points at the break, Watson also became DeSales' all-time leading scorer in the process, another notch in the belt of a player who has put together an incredible season.
In the second half, DeSales gave up no ground, as Watson scored another nine points in the third quarter to lift the Stallions to a 52-30 lead heading into the final frame.
Meadowbrook never really challenged at any point in the game, getting no closer than the 14-point final margin. Without a true matchup for Watson and no starters over 6-foot-2, Meadowbrook had nobody to protect the rim as Watson made the Colts pay all afternoon long.
The Stallions applied terrific pressure on the ball and gave Meadowbrook nothing easy. The Colts struggled to hit shots for large stretches of the middle quarters, while allowing DeSales to get out in the open floor where the Stallions punished them.
Watson's 30 points were a game-high while Achirem added an efficient 16. Rounding out the starting lineup, Austin Mann, Atticus Schuler and Cruz Sanchez each added four points, but did most of their damage on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass where DeSales gave up very few second chances.
The 6-foot-5 senior Watson was the biggest, most athletic and most talented player on the floor by a wide margin, which was easy to tell from the opening tip. Meadowbrook's inability to contain, let alone slow down Watson, gave the Colts virtually no chance to pull the upset and return to the state tournament for the second time in three years.
For Meadowbrook, Davis Singleton and Jake Singleton each finished in double figures with 15 and 13 points respectively.
With its first regional final victory since 2009, DeSales moves on to the Division II state semifinals where they will take on Dayton Chaminade-Julienne on Saturday, March 20 at 11 a.m.
Chaminade ended Bishop Watterson's Cinderella run in the state tournament and prevented a possible CCL clash in the state final four.
DeSales is fortunate to avoid the other side of the bracket which will feature a star-studded state semifinal between Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and Lima Shawnee.
If the Stallions get a showing out of Watson like they had on Saturday, they can play with anyone in the state. For the Stallions to win their first state title since 1987, they'll need focused and fearless play from here on out, as they struggled out of the gate and had early game jitters in both the district finals and regional semifinals against Jonathan Alder and Unioto.