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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 4:34 am | Fair 43º

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Boys Basketball

Royals’ Zone Defense Frustrates Dos Pueblos in 47-35 Win

Thomas Hantgin of San Marcos pulls up for a jumper against Anthony Trujillo and Jayson Williams (5) of Dos Pueblos.
Thomas Hantgin of San Marcos pulls up for a jumper against Anthony Trujillo and Jayson Williams (5) of Dos Pueblos. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

The zone defense was an effective way for San Marcos to shut down teams last season.

With most of the players back and with good size, the Royals’ 2-1-2 zone is even better this year. Their defense and the solid play of guards Ryan McCarthy and Thomas Hantgin made the difference in a 47-35 Channel League basketball win over Dos Pueblos at a packed Sovine Gym on Wednesday night.

McCarthy slashed his way to the hoop for a game-high 16 points to lead three Royals in double figures. Kele Mkpado scored 13 points and Scott Everman added 11, as San Marcos completed the first round of league play at 3-1. The Royals are 16-5 overall.

Dos Pueblos, which fell to 1-3 and 15-8 overall, was led in scoring by Anthony Trujillo and Jayson Williams with eight points a piece.

San Marcos switched to the zone at about the 3-minute mark of the first quarter and it immediately changed the game. The Royals held DP to two points for the rest of the quarter and went on a 7-0 run to take the lead. Mkpado nailed a 3-pointer to start the run.

San Marcos guard Ryan McCarthy looks for an opening while being defended by DP’s Marcellous Gossett. McCarthy scored a game-high 16 points. Click to view larger
San Marcos guard Ryan McCarthy looks for an opening while being defended by DP’s Marcellous Gossett. McCarthy scored a game-high 16 points. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

The Chargers struggled to get into an offensive flow against the zone and resorted to shooting 3-pointers. They attempted 20 and made only three.

“We had a lot of success out of that zone last year, and we have a lot of returners,” San Marcos coach Landon Boucher said. “We added Ryan Fay in there and a couple of new guys, but we fall back on that many times, and tonight it paid off big time. It was one of the first games this year when we stayed with it.”

DP coach Joe Zamora said San Marcos’ size advantage made the zone tough to deal with.

“They’re long and they really get into the passing lanes. And we shot 3 for 20 from the 3-point line,” he said. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight. That was a tough one.”

McCarthy said the zone made the Chargers work extra hard for their shots.

“Our zone is really good when we’re really active on the outside, because the other team has to swing (the ball) around outside and, hopefully, they work down the shot club and jack up the three. They did that a lot tonight and that’s why we were successful,” he said.

The Chargers scored only four points in the second quarter — two of them on free throws — turned the ball over several times and had shots blocked. Eveman blocked four shots for the Royals.

For San Marcos, McCarthy drove hard to the basket and got to the free-throw line, and Everman buried a 3-pointer, stole the ball and went coast to coast for a layup to open a 20-13 advantage.

The Royals continued to break down DP’s defense in the third quarter and extended their lead to 39-20.

The Chargers stepped up their defensive pressure and crashed the boards harder in the fourth quarter, which spurred a 7-0 run. Upset over a couple of no-calls by the officials, the San Marcos bench was assessed a technical foul during the run.

With renewed vigor, Dos Pueblos had a couple of chances to get the deficit under 10. But the Chargers were denied by a pair of blocked shots by Everman and Mkpado.

Mkpado scored after blocking a San Marcos layup attempt and McCarthy followed with a free throw and a 3-pointer to make it 45-29 and put the game away.

“I was telling Kele when he was having trouble coming back: ‘Kele, you have to understand that you don’t need to score for us – all you need to do is be big inside for us,” Boucher said. “You saw it time and time again, either on the break they blew layups because they were worried about him, or they’d get by our guy and there would be Kele inside, with Scott.”

Boucher said the composure of McCarthy and point guard Thomas Hantgin against DP's aggressive play made a huge difference in the game.

“I was real proud of Ryan, he was composed tonight,” Boucher said. “A couple of possessions in the second half, it was scrambly, and he was composed in that. And so was Thomas (Hantgin).

“You look at the score sheet and you probably wouldn’t think (Hantgin) was a main factor, but he was real composed at running the one, brought it up the entire game, got us into our offense.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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