Williston can't stop Blue Wave

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:23 a.m.

Nobody thought P.K. Yonge would be the class of District 5-3A this late in the season.

Not after seeing standout Willie Powers and several other talented seniors go. Not with how good district foes Newberry and Williston were supposed to be. And not with the introduction of a new head coach.

Well, maybe not nobody.

The 13 guys in the Blue Wave locker room never stopped believing.

On Tuesday night, their visions of continuing the success of last year's state semifinal team got another jolt, as they gave themselves a 1 1/2-game cushion in the district by beating visiting Williston, 55-41.

"There were a lot of people doubting us," first-year P.K. Yonge head coach Carlos Villalobos said. "We always knew as a team that we can make a run. But we're not done yet."

Early on, it seemed as if the Blue Wave's struggles against Williston the team that handed P.K. Yonge its only district loss earlier this season would continue. The Red Devils (11-6, 5-2) clogged the paint, got out in transition and forced turnovers to open up an early 15-3 lead. During that stretch, they forced the Blue Wave (14-4, 7-1) into just 1-of-6 shooting.

But the second quarter proved to be a totally different game for P.K. Yonge, as they erupted on a 14-0 run to seize control of the game and never let Williston back in it.

With junior Josh Snodgrass scoring eight of his game-high 22 points in the quarter, senior Wally Wade manning the boards and freshman Carl Brown providing a spark off the bench, the Blue Wave matched Williston's intensity and took a three-point lead going into halftime.

"We relaxed a little bit," Red Devils head coach David Vespignani said. "We knew they were going to make a run. They're a tough team, and they've been there before. Our kids just didn't respond."

There was no response to another offensive explosion in the third quarter, either. At the start of the second half, the Blue Wave began pressuring the passing lanes and going into a full-court press to jump out to an 8-0 run and force three turnovers along the way.

Snodgrass then hit his fourth of five 3-pointers to make it a double-digit lead, and junior Autis Gibson led a 2-on-1 break with Wade to catapult the lead to 13.

After that, P.K. Yonge switched to a 2-3 zone, which halted the Red Devils' offense and allowed the Blue Wave to take a 16-point lead late in the quarter.

"We've struggled with the zone all year long," Vespignani said. "We got very stagnant, and our kids didn't knock down shots."

At the start of the fourth, the Red Devils began to make a run and cut it to 10. But Gibson, who had left the game periodically because he was bleeding from his lip, knocked down a 3-pointer from the elbow that provided the dagger with 3:20 left.

"We definitely came out sluggish," Snodgrass said. "Early on, we were trying to force it. But we focused on rebounding and getting to the rim, and that turned it around for us.

"We weren't lacking energy. We were lacking focus."

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