The Watson Chapel Lady Wildcats (19-3) tacked another win onto their season record Tuesday night after handing the Benton Lady Panthers a 61-28 loss.
Benton senior guard Italei Gray scored their first two field goals on the inside, but Watson Chapel came out to play and answered quickly.
Lady Wildcats sophomore point guard Wyvette Mayberry got things started with two early three pointers. Benton Head Coach Jerry Crumley called for timeout with 3:49 to play in the first quarter as he was displeased with their positioning on offense.
Benton was crisp in their half-court sets, and junior Makenzy Davidson hit two wide open jumpers after the Lady Wildcats were caught between screens. Watson Chapel senior forward Jerrica Bell finished the first half with a lay up to put the Lady Wildcats up by two.
Turnovers slowed the Lady Wildcats down in the first, and when they eliminated those it made things much easier. Watson Chapel turned things up on defense, and it allowed them to outscore the Lady Panthers 17-4 in quarter two. Mayberry accounted for two break away lay ups, and her third three pointer of the first half helped stretch the lead Watson Chapel’s lead.
Bell's size and her ability to be versatile in the post began to wear on the Lady Panthers, and after she hit a bank shot to end the first half they were on top 31-16.
Watson Chapel senior Jakhiyah Boston and sophomore Kaelyn Irby provided quality play, nailing a few three pointers in the midst of their run.
In the third quarter, Mayberry stayed aggressive, and her teammates fed off it. The Lady Wildcats scored 18 points in the third to open up a 26-point advantage.
In the fourth, Benton didn't let up, but Watson Chapel never relinquished control. Jakhiyah Boston took shots when they were there within the offense and didn’t force anything up.
With a little over five minutes to play, Watson Chapel Head Coach Leslie Henderson began to pull her starters with this one well in hand.
The Lady Wildcats had three players to score in double figures. Mayberry led the way with a game-high 19 points. Bell and Boston each chipped in with 15 points.
Two ball clubs who play totally opposites styles of basketball faced off Tuesday night when the Benton Panthers came to visit the Watson Chapel Wildcats. The Wildcats came away from this one scratching their heads as the Panthers walked away with a 55-50 road win.
The Wildcats want to play fast and pressure the ball, while the Panthers run a methodical system that's designed to create wide open shots. What was most impressive is the job the Panthers were able to do on defense by neutralizing the speed of the Wildcats.
Missed shots and free throws really hurt the Wildcats, and those are a couple things that Watson Chapel Head Coach Marcelle Goins has harped on constantly.
From the get-go, it was indicative by their defense that Benton had Watson Chapel well scouted out. The lone aggressor from the start for the Wildcats was senior Markevion Harris. The Panthers were patient on offense, working the ball around the perimeter, setting screens, cutting and finding wide open shooters.
Benton got big contributions on offense from Jai Peters, Carson Cates and Evan Sims. Cates drilled a corner three to end the first quarter, giving Benton a 13-8 lead.
Early in the second, Cates and Wildcats senior Willie Webster traded three pointers. Goins and the Wildcats have become known for their high pressure defense, and with 2:40 to play in quarter one he decided to turn it up. The pressure forced two consecutive Benton turnovers, and Webster then stepped up to knock down a triple at the top of the key to bring Chapel within a possession.
This was a close game throughout, with the biggest lead for either team being eight points. Peters knocked down a pull up jumper from the elbow to cap off a quick 5-0 run for Benton right out of halftime.
At that point the Watson Chapel defense began to do it's job by forcing multiple turnovers and deflections. In the third quarter, Watson Chapel found themselves on a 15-0 run that opened up that eight point lead.
Willie Webster contributed on the offensive end by driving strong to the goal.
The Panthers answered with two timely threes, one by Sims and the other by Peters. Those triples slowed Watson Chapel's momentum down and heading into the fourth the game was very much up for grabs.
Peters opened the fourth with a lay up to give Benton the lead. Watson Chapel relied on their press, but the Panthers did a solid job of breaking using the pass. The Panthers didn't settle for jumpers as they attacked the glass on cuts through the lane.
Missed free throws really hurt the Wildcats in the fourth, and they were a strong point for Benton. Up by one, Sims drew a foul, and knocked down both free throws to give Benton a three point lead.
Benton Head Coach Dexter Hendrix then elected to play keep away with 1:53 to play in the game, and Goins was forced to have his guys play the foul game. Benton converted at the free throw line and came away with a much needed win in this blended conference action.
The Panthers had three players to score in double figures, with Carson Cates led all scorers with 16 points. Jai Peters and Evan Sims both added 15 points a piece.
Watson Chapel's leading scorer was Willie Webster with 15 points. Markevion Harris added 10 points.