By Marc Pruitt
It was raining 3-pointers Monday night while Winston-Salem Prep and Bishop McGuinness squared off in a key Northwest 1-A Conference clash.
The teams combined to make 21 3’s, but it was Prep that poured it on in the second half to pull away for a 74-54 win, the 15th straight for the Phoenix.
Chaz Gwyn—who made five 3’s– led four players in double figures for Prep with 20 points—14 of which came in the second half as the Phoenix got hot from behind the arc.
Prep (18-3, 8-0 Northwest 1-A) made six 3’s in the third quarter to take a commanding 56-39 lead heading into the fourth.
McGuinness (17-5, 4-4) could get no closer the rest of the way.
Daivien Williamson finished with 19 points for Prep—11 of which came in the third quarter—and had four 3-pointers, Corey Rutherford added 12 points, including three 3’s, and K.J. Watson chipped in 12.
The Phoenix finished with 12 3-pointers during the game, three of which came on back-to-back-to-back possessions that resulted in a 9-0 run to end the first half.
That extended a 23-18 lead to 32-18, and the Prep defense held McGuinness scoreless for the final four minutes of the second quarter.
Williamson, Gwyn, and Rutherford, respectively, knocked down the flurry of 3’s before halftime, delivering in essence what was the knockout blow.
“We can shoot it a little bit,” Coach Andre Gould said. “We kind of let the game come to us tonight. You come into all these rivalry games, and it’s tough. We started to figure it out in the second quarter. And to be honest, we have not seen Bishop all year and weren’t really able to get a scouting report on them to see what we needed to do.”
Prep was sluggish in the opening quarter, clawing its way to a 14-12 lead. Anytime it appeared that the Phoenix would make a push to extend the lead, McGuinness fought its way back.
The Villains were playing without starting point guard Ryan Moon, who suffered a broken finger in last Friday’s game against South Stokes.
Coach Josh Thompson knew Moon’s absence might be difficult to overcome.
“He’s a three-year starting point guard for us and is our steadying force,” Thompson said. “I don’t know how many turnovers we had, but it was a lot. We had about an hour shootaround on Saturday to practice after we found out he was going to be out tonight, and that just makes it tough to face all the pressure they can put on you, especially with the length and speed that they have. We were able to do some good things, and I think that being able to experience playing without him will help us out down the road.”
Jake Babcock scored 16 points to lead McGuinness, which finished with nine 3-pointers, and C.J. Cappuccio finished with 15.
“The way they shot the ball in the third quarter, there’s just not a lot we could do about that,” Thompson said. “They’ve got really good guard play and we knew we were going to have to gamble and hope they missed some shots, and they just didn’t miss many tonight.”
Gould said that his team is rounding into form as it heads towards the postseason.
Prep will face North Stokes on Tuesday and play at McGuinness on Friday to round out the regular season.
“We’re about to the point where we kind of know our playoff seed and we’re trying to get healthy from all these knick-knack injuries we’ve got right now,” Gould said. “We’ve got a few more battles to go to finish the regular season strong.”
Bishop McGuinness: Cappuccio 15, Babcock 16, Palmisano 8, Desalvo 3, McAlhaney 3, O’Hale 2, Budzinski 7
W-S Prep: Williamson 19, Gwyn 20, Rutherford 13, Watson 12, Goodloe 8, Crawley 2,