By: Zach Fleer / @YS614
Going into halftime trailing 32-21, Bishop Watterson (23-1) was having all sorts of trouble containing standout Brookhaven (20-4) guard Randal Clarkson. Clarkson torched the Eagles for 13 points and four assists in a high-energy first half that had the Bearcats looking to run away with the Columbus 1 District title. Watterson’s suffocating zone-defense, combined with clutch three-point shooting helped the Eagles win their third district title in five years, 56-52.
Surging ahead to an 11 point lead in the first half, Brookhaven stifled Watterson with full-court pressure which led to transition offense. Scoring 18 points in the second period alone, Brookhaven had no issues with Watterson’s 2-3 zone in a 32 point first half. Watterson would turn up the pressure in the second half, limiting Brookhaven to 20 points in the final two periods and overtime to secure the district title.
The Eagles were led by junior guard Cody Calhoun’s 19 points, while senior forward Matt Hughes added 11 of his own. Watterson’s three-point shooting in the second half was crucial in decreasing the deficit in the final 16 minutes.
Going into the fourth quarter trailing 41-38, Watterson used a 9-4 run to start the period to surge ahead 47-45, with 5:40 remaining. Clarkson and Brookhaven struck back, as the senior guard caused a steal, which led to two Kevin Greenhow free-throws to even the advantage, 49-49. Clarkson would cause yet another steal on the next possession to give Brookhaven a chance to win the game. The Bearcats held the ball for the last minute and 45 seconds before Clarkson’s game-winning attempt was deflected, sending the game into overtime after a long Watterson heave was unsuccessful.
Watterson jumped out to a 53-49 lead in the overtime period before Brookhaven’s Ronnie Williams hit a deep three to cut the lead to one with 1:22 to go. On the following possession, Williams caused a steal, but Brookhaven failed to convert on the offensive end.
On Watterson’s next possession, Williams’ blocked shot gave Brookhaven yet another chance to take their first lead since the fourth quarter. Clarkson’s baseline drive and pull-up jumper was blocked out of bounds and possession was controversially given to Watterson. Calhoun would hit two free-throws putting Watterson ahead 55-52 with 20 seconds remaining.
Clarkson attempted to drive to the hoop on the following possession, coming up unsuccessful. Williams’ offensive rebound and putback following Clarkson’s attempt was also unsuccessful, sealing the victory for Watterson, 56-52 following a Matt Lehmann free-throw.
With the victory, Watterson claims their third district title since 2009. Clarkson led all scorers with 23 points. Brookhaven’s senior guard shot 9-17 from the field, while the rest of the team went a combined 11-38.