COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There was an electric atmosphere at Walnut Ridge on Friday night. With not a single empty seat in the house, the whole city wanted to be at the rematch of the season after South’s overtime victory in December. The Scots (11-2) got revenge, beating the Bulldogs (12-1) 56-46.
It appeared that the audience was in store for a tight game after the first quarter. South double teamed Scots star Von Cameron Davis for the whole quarter and even crashed their entire helpside defense on him as Ridge tried to work him out of the mid and high post. The Bulldogs were determined for someone else to beat them.
The South backcourt pairing of Trehon Watkins and Taquan Simmington were clicking on all cylinders with nine points. They did this by excelling in the open court but picking their spots in transition after generating turnovers.
The second quarter was far less kind to the Bulldogs. They came out in an extended 2-3 zone, as they were adamant on mixing up looks to contain the Ridge star.
Unfortunately, there was not an answer for Davis. Ridge ran some good off ball action to try and force switches to create mismatches for the junior and looked to get him in transition and on the perimeter in this quarter to try and prevent any chance of a double team on their leading scorer.
Meanwhile, South played right into Ridge’s fast paced game and struggled to knock down open shots scoring only five points in the second quarter and Ridge took the lead 22-19 at halftime.
The Scots started to pull away in the third as they dominated the offensive glass throughout the entire second half. Kaveon Ross and Von Cameron Davis created one extra possession after another on the boards for Walnut Ridge.
The Bulldogs really struggled in this quarter as well. The ball remained very stagnant in the half-court and they relied on their guard play to consistently create open shots for themselves on every possession, which was an unrealistic expectation.
Ridge’s effort and physicality on both ends of the basketball was way too much to handle. South did implement a full-court press late in the third for the first time in the game that proved to be wildly successful later in the game. The Scots continued to build their lead to 37-28.
Heading into the fourth, the Bulldogs continued their press and the momentum of the game shifted quickly. Taking advantage of inadequate decisions made by the Ridge backcourt led to multiple turnovers. After a quiet second and third quarter, senior Treohn Watkins heated up with two straight three-pointers, sparking a 10-0 run for the Bulldogs and trimming a Scots lead of 13 to just three points.
The South fans were ecstatic and we saw the makings of what could have been a major comeback, but then junior guard Qian Magwood knocked down a crowd silencing shot from the outside.
South had one last surge left in them with two quick buckets from junior Taquan Simington. The first trailing in transition and grabbing an offensive rebound, and the other on a coast-to-coast layup after prying a rebound away from Davis, putting his nonstop motor on display.
Finding themselves down by three once again with 1:31 left, the Bulldogs ran a beautiful play out of the timeout attempting to work Watkins off an elevator screen for an open three, but an illegal screen was called. From that moment on South never recovered like they continued to all game prior. Walnut Ridge iced the game with free throws and got the 56-46 victory.
This was a disappointing game from South. They struggled to gain control of the tempo throughout the game and handle the size mismatch. I would have liked to see them play the same style of basketball they played in the first quarter throughout the whole game, and consistently mix up pressing looks. Treohn Watkins and Taquan Simmington led the team with 12 points each.
Ridge wanted this one bad. They played their butts off and outworked a more talented team from the tip-off. There was no answer for junior Von Cameron Davis’ dominance tonight, as he finished with 26 points. Kaveon Ross was the only other double digit scorer with 13. Senior guard Meech Coble also had an incredibly strong showing defensively and was a big reason why the South guards struggled to create their own shots.