Watchmen survive late rally
Prior to their Jan. 4 home contest versus Livingstone Adventist Academy, the C.S. Lewis Academy boys basketball team had not fielded more than six players for any game this season and had even had to finish one contest with just three players on the court.
That didn't stop them from opening the season 7-3, and bolstered by the addition of two players last week the Watchmen added a pair of conference wins to stay unbeaten in the Casco League.
C.S. Lewis has had problems protecting leads late in games and did have to survive another frantic finish to hold off the Lions 49-46.
Livingstone (2-4, 2-3) threw a curve ball at the Watchmen by playing an unorthodox 3-2 zone defense, which effectively kept point guard Dylan Stroup and wing Micah Grobey from penetrating into the lane.
After falling behind 9-4 after the first quarter, Jacob More helped loosen up the defense with some outside shooting. The sophomore nailed three three-pointers to spark CSLA to 24 points in the quarter and a 28-19 halftime lead.
"You have to get the ball to the corners," CSLA coach Brett Vernon said. "We teach our kids the exact opposites for any other zone. But since they have three guys above the free throw line and two bigger guys down low, you have to get to the corners."
The outside shooting helped open up the lane for Grobey, who finished with a game-high 19 points and 14 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season, while Stroup totaled six points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
C.S. Lewis led by as many as 13 in the third quarter, but Livingstone managed to hang around and eventually cut the lead to six points early in the fourth.
Taylor Dovers and Trevor Ambrose immediately responded with back-to-back three-pointers to make it 46-34. Ambrose later hit his third triple of the quarter to make it 49-38 with 3:31 to play and it appeared the Watchmen would run away with the contest.
"Anytime the momentum was shifting the other way, he hit a three," Vernon said. "That's why I named him a captain. I'm glad we got him out for basketball again because he was the same in soccer. He's tough as nails."
The Lions, however, answered back with a three-pointer of their own before the game got bogged down over the next two and a half minutes, with neither team scoring.
Livingstone began to press, as most teams have done against CSLA, down the stretch and managed to get another three-pointer to fall to make it 49-44 with 43 seconds to go. After the teams traded turnovers back and forth, the Lions got a layup to make it 49-46 with 10 seconds to play.
Livingstone then burned two quick fouls and got a steal on the ensuing inbounds play, but Stroup blocked the resulting shot out of bounds and the Watchmen prevented the Lions from getting another shot off to preserve the win.
"A win's a win, but we have to clean up things at the end," Grobey said. "All the turnovers let them get back into the game."
The Watchmen (9-3, 4-0) had little trouble dispatching Willamette Valley Christian on Friday, though, as Grobey scored 34 points to go along with 10 rebounds and five steals in a 62-42 road win.