A matchup zone defense allowed Heights to run away with a 20-point win on Tuesday against Northwest.
So Heights coach Joe Auer used it once again going up against North freshman guard Jackie Johnson III, who was averaging 24.6 points heading into Friday’s game.
The zone defense made offense more difficult for Johnson and allowed Heights to continue its undefeated start with a 74-60 win.
“We knew going in that (Johnson) was going to score some points,” Heights guard Devin Davis said. “It’s hard to stop the kid. He’s going to shoot from anywhere in the half-court. We knew that coming in. We knew that if we stayed the course, there’s no team that can beat us.”
Heights came out as the aggressor in the first quarter, forcing Johnson to shoot from well beyond the three-point line and resulting in him missing his first three attempts. The Falcons found mismatches in the North defense, driving to the basket and looking inside for freshman forward Danir Dempsey.
Plays from Johnson helped North cut the deficit to eight by halftime.
A three-pointer from Devin Davis and two consecutive baskets off North turnovers pushed Heights to a 51-37 lead with under two minutes left in the third quarter.
“We just have to do a better job of executing against their zone defense,” North coach Gary Squires said. “It was just that (first) quarter that they didn’t have the intensity like we have been having. This is just our second game on the road and we’ve got to realize that coming in on the road, we have to bring intensity. We didn’t bring it tonight.”
Whenever North looked like they would be sparked by a scoring run, Heights’ seniors spoiled the party quickly. After North cut the deficit back down to single digits with back-to-back baskets from senior Peyton Hatter, Heights responded with baskets while drawing the fouls and having their set offenses get them open three-pointers.
“(Seniors are) what you should have. That’s what a program is all about,” Auer said. “All four of our seniors are four-year program guys. They’re not kids that we brought in from somewhere else. They’re doing exactly what they need to do, playing great basketball the Heights way and having a great time and taking a lot of pressure off our underclassmen.”
While Heights’ defense forced Johnson into a quiet night – he finished with 14 points – North found success with dishing the ball inside, especially to Hatter. The senior led all scorers with 33 points and had 10 rebounds.
Davis led Heights with 21 points and 11 rebounds, often grabbing the loose boards and starting the fast-break. Auer said that the team often plays through Davis, and feeds off his energy on the court.
“Devin Davis is our guy,” Auer said. “He’s our best player and the kids know that. He’s obviously one of the best players in the state. He’s not forcing the issue (shooting), but he comes in with 11 rebounds. That is what we are all about. He was here to do the dirty work tonight and he did a great job.”
North 12 15 17 21 — 65
Heights 20 15 20 19 — 74
North: Hatter 33, Johnson III 14, Moose 8, Butner 8, Wilson 2
Heights: Davis 21, Dempsey 12, Hale 11, Profit 9, Edwards 9, Kirkendoll 7, Okon 3, Pillich 2