Watson-led Whitfield slips by PCHS at O'Fallon Shootout, 58-57

J.C. Moll hit five three-pointers in the first quarter against Whitfield. (Doug Daniels Photos/Video)

By Doug Daniels

1351sports.com / pinckneyvillesports.com

February 3, 2018

  (O'Fallon, Ill.) - The Panthers were good, but, they weren't Torrence Watson good. The Whitfield senior guard that has signed with the University of Missouri lit up Pinckneyville for 40 points in Friday night's game at the Bank of O'Fallon Shootout at O'Fallon Township High School, providing just enough for his Warriors to slip past PCHS 58-57.
  Pinckneyville had an opportunity to win it in the final 2:22 of the fourth quarter after Whitfield's Luther Taylor gave the Warriors a one-point lead with two free throws. The Panthers elected to hold for one shot, running the clock down to 15 seconds before starting their offense. Whitfield defended it well, forcing a contested corner jumper by Grant Jausel that was off the mark.
  "At the end, we were going to hold it because I thought if they got it back they were going to score," said Pinckneyville head coach Bob Waggoner. "I really didn't think we had an answer at that point in the game, and they were in the double bonus. We did a great job of holding it, taking time off the clock. Didn't execute the play exactly they right way, but had an opportunity to win the game. The read was wrong on the screen, we took it back the wrong way. We should have gotten the floor spaced, instead we brought it back and it caused a rushed shot."
  PCHS led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but had to play almost the entire second half without the services of sophomore guard Dawson Yates, who suffered a hip injury while the Panthers were making their big run in the second period. His absence allowed Whitfield to focus more of their defensive efforts on J.C. Moll, who after scoring 15 points on threes in the first quarter alone was held to just 2 the rest of the night.
  "(Moll) has got to learn to screen and get himself open and do some things," Waggoner said. "I thought they did a better job of staying tighter to him (after the first quarter). At the same time, I felt we had great looks all night."

  Moll's five threes in the first quarter helped the Panthers to a 24-15 lead heading to the second. After the Warriors cut it to five, PCHS went on a 14-2 run that included a three from Yates and another from Tanner Spihlmann. Kyle Luke's baseline drive for a layup with 4:02 to go in the half gave the Panthers a commanding 38-21 advantage.
  But Watson woke up soon thereafter. He hit back-to-back triples to spark a 15-0 run - by himself - to close out the half and enter break with a whopping 30 points. Pinckneyville was left clinging to a 38-36 lead after two periods.
  The Panthers were able to stay in front for most of the third period, and Jausel's three in the closing seconds of the quarter gave PCHS a 51-47 lead entering the fourth. The tide didn't really turn until late the final frame when Watson fought through traffic for two with 2:42 remaining to cut the lead down to one. Twenty seconds later, Whitfield had the ball back and Taylor hit his two free throws that gave the Warriors a one-point lead and set up the final sequence of events.
  Watson's 40 points were the most by any single player against the Panthers this season.
  "He's got good pieces around him, and he's special," Waggoner said. "We did as much as we could to try to slow him down. We just kept running guys at him trying to wear him down. Our plan was to keep making him have to earn every point. It worked to an extent, but, he still had 40."
  "At the end we had a chance to make one last play and we didn't. They made their free throws, got to the line a few more times. A few plays here or there and it's a different story. We played really well, shot it well early, which makes you look good. We got a little tired and quit going inside, and I think a lot of our shots early were coming inside-out. We needed to get the ball inside and we just didn't do it."
  Moll's 17 points led the Panthers, Jausel added 13, Spihlmann 11, Yates 5, Tyler Rice 4, Luke 3, and Grant Tanner and Kyle Kreger each had 2.

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