Libertyville moves to 3-1 with win over Conant
When you're hot, you're hot.
Libertyville senior guard Jackson Watson turned on the afterburners at St. Viator Saturday afternoon. Watson scored 11 straight points of which three were 3-pointers in the Wildcats' 55-46 win over Conant at the 43rd annual St. Viator Thanksgiving boys basketball tournament.
Leading the Cougars 39-36 with one minute left in the third quarter, Watson scored on a short jumper and followed with a 3-pointer to end the quarter ahead 44-36.
Watson then connected on two long-range shots in the first minute of the fourth quarter which was followed by Chase Bonder's basket to give 3-1 Libertyville (4-0) a 52-36 lead.
"I had the confidence hitting those 3s, " said Watson. "We have players who can score. Tonight was my night. This is a real good start for us. We know we can be good. We lost a lot of seniors from last year's team but the juniors and our sophomore (Bonder) have stepped it up."
Wildcats coach Brian Zyrkowski, while pleased with the offense, was impressed with Watson's defense on Conant's star player, Devon Ellis.
"He gave Ellis fits. He has such good work ethic, toughness, and leadership," said Zyrkowski. "He's just a hard worker on and off the floor. I've been lucky to have him as a player."
Watson held Ellis to 12 points. Ellis hit 5 of 11 shots and had 7 rebounds.
"I noticed that he liked to go to the baseline after getting the ball on the wing and I knew I had to stop that," said Watson.
Conant (0-4) led 9-7 after the first quarter. With Ellis picking up his third foul early in the second quarter, the Wildcats' offense became more productive.
Bonder (11 points) started a 16-5 second quarter run with 2 free throws and a basket. James Steinhaus' steal and score which was followed by a Watson 3-pointer helped Libertyville open a 16-9 lead before Daniel Hong's 3-pointer. Hong finished with 16 points.
Libertyville led at the halftime break 23-14.
Conant hit 9 of 10 shots including two 3-pointers by Abaz Karafili (11 points) to stay close. Libertyville was up to the task, connecting on 9 of 11 shots. Conant could not sustain the momentum to start the fourth quarter as the Wildcats pulled away to lead 55-40 with 45 seconds left in the game.
Will Moore added 13 points and 8 rebounds for Libertyville.
"The past few years we've come out of this tournament 1-3 or 2-2," said Zyrkowski. "It's different and this helps us carry a little momentum into our game with Carmel on Tuesday. We were able to gain confidence as a team. We showed really good balance as we had different players lead us in scoring in each game."
"We had a couple of mental lapses in the fourth quarter," said Conant assistant coach Mick Traimarco, subbing for head coach Jim Maley. "Watson got some good looks. We just need to learn to execute better on offense and defense. We know that we are a young team but at some point we'll have to get it together."
•Evanston opened up a 13-0 lead over St. Viator and held up for a 59-51 Wildkit win. Evanston won the tournament with a 4-0 record.
Daeshawn Hemphill led Evanston with 21 points. Jaylin Gibson scored 15 for the winners.
Connor Kochera and Connor Benson each scored 17 points for the 2-2 Lions.