In preparing for Hot Springs, Watson Chapel boys coach Matt Busch knew his team needed to slow down Trojan sophomore sensation Lonell Lenox.
Busch decided the best way to try and limit Lennox was to use a zone defense. The only problem was that the Wildcats hadn’t run zone all season.
“We hadn’t run zone until this game,” Busch said. “We worked on it for three days, and we had three really good days of practice.
“They only scored 39 (points) against our zone before we switched to man-to-man for the fourth quarter. We don’t like to give up more than 50, so we were about on pace for that.”
Lenox finished with a game-high 23 points but the new defense worked well enough to earn Chapel a 62-53 win and sole possession of first place in the 5A-South Conference on Tuesday night at Watson Chapel High School.
Busch said the defensive effort was successful because his post players rebounded well.
“I thought Xavier Young and Ben Marcus did an outstanding job,” he said. “They did not give them second-chance opportunities.”
Young had 14 points and Marcus added 11, but the story of the game was Lenox versus Chapel’s defense.
“No. 23 (Lenox) is a man,” Busch said. “Our goal is to keep him 20 feet from the basket. …
“He is the sole reason we are in the zone.”
Early on, Lenox was making Chapel (12-3, 4-0) pay for deciding to play zone.
The 6-foot-2 sophomore drained four three-pointers and finished with 14 points in the first half.
The Wildcats, though, held a 27-25 lead at the break thanks to eight points each from Leonard Robinson and Datreon Lindsey.
Robinson finished with a team-high 16 points, but Busch was most impressed with his defense on Lenox, particularly in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats switched to man-to-man for that period and Robinson held Lenox to just four points.
“Leonard Robinson matched up with (Lenox),” Busch said. “I don’t know if he even came out of the entire game.
“That’s a tough assignment.
“His defense in the fourth quarter was the key to us making our run.”
That run — an 8-2 spurt — came after Hot Springs’ 8-0 run pulled the Trojans’ (8-7, 3-1) within three points at 54-51 late in the game.
Trojan head coach Rodney Echols, who was a Chapel assistant from 2006-07 to 11-12, was pleased with the fight shown by his sophomore-laden team (five of the nine Hot Springs players that saw action were 10th-graders).
“We competed,” Echols said. “But we know we have some things we need to work on.
“We were 7 of 17 on free throws and had too many unforced turnovers, and they capitalized off each and every one.”
Hot Springs 50, Watson Chapel 23
The Hot Springs girls held Watson Chapel to single-digit scoring in all four quarters of a blow out win on Tuesday night.
The Lady Trojans held quarter leads of 15-2, 32-9 and 41-18.
Kierra Cox led Chapel with nine points.
Hot Springs’ Berniezha Tidwell scored a game-high 17 points, including 10 in the first quarter. Ashley Clayborn and Tiaunna Watkins added 12 and 11 points, respectively.