Cole Benson and Deng Geu powered the top-ranked Washington boys to their seventh consecutive victory Tuesday night, pulling away from Brandon Valley in the second half for a 51-35 win.
The 6-foot-6 Benson (18 points) and 6-8 Geu (14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks) did it with varied attacks, anchoring the Warriors inside, getting to the foul line and showing range from beyond the arc. Their efforts helped Washington distance its lead, ballooning to as many as 20 late in the third quarter.
Early on, though, Brandon stayed with Washington, challenging the Warriors defensively with a 2-3 zone and looking to get the ball inside on offense.
“We wanted to try and attack them inside. We wanted to find out how good they were — how good of interior defenders they are — and now we certainly know,” Brandon Valley coach Brent Deckert said.
Washington’s Sam Siganos (4) goes up for a shot over Brandon Valley defenders during a game on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, at Washington High School in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Brandon’s Tyler Erck, Peter Choudek and Spencer Grage gave the Lynx early points, and the Warriors — needing a change of pace — applied pressure defense to counter.
“A little bit of pressure in the first half helped get us out of a rut. We just weren’t making shots,” Washington coach Craig Nelson said.
“Their zone took us a couple of possessions to figure out where gaps were and things like that, so that pressure helped get us some easy ones and helped to get it back to a tie game by the end of the quarter.”
The Warriors pulled ahead 13-10 at the end of the first after a rare Geu 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Washington kept up the pressure to close out the half.
Ty Smith gave the Warriors a spark with nine points and four steals, while point guard Sam Siganos turned in four assists.
But while the Warriors held an edge at the half, it was the third quarter where they took over. Benson scored eight of his points in the third, hitting a baseline jumper and twice earning three points the hard way.
“We always kind of let teams come back in it, so we tried to make sure and keep up the intensity, extend the lead and capitalize on our opportunities,” said Benson on the Warriors’ third-quarter surge.
Washington (11-1) also buckled down defensively, going away from the press but making the Lynx work for every point. The Warriors outscored the Lynx 16-4 for the quarter, giving them a 44-24 advantage going into the fourth.
It helped that the Warriors outrebounded Brandon Valley 30-23 and made the most of their trips to the line (going 9-for-12 to Brandon’s 3-for-9).
Geu’s 12 rebounds and three blocks were almost par for the course, an indication of how the North Dakota State recruit’s big games seem so effortless. In all, Tuesday night’s game looked a lot like what it was — a No. 1-ranked squad asserting itself when the game mattered the most.
“There’s going to be times where you play a team as good as Washington — and they certainly are the best the state has to offer right now – that, if we can only put four points on the board in a quarter, it’s not going to be good,” Deckert said.
Grage led the Lynx with eight points, while Choudek and Austin Trevino had seven each.
Brandon Valley (6-6) is host to Pierre on Friday; Washington visits No. 2 Lincoln on Thursday.
BRANDON VALLEY (6-6)
Alex Wilde 2 1-6 5, Peter Choudek 3 0-0 7, Tyler Erck 2 0-0 4, Alex Waltner 1 0-0 2, Austin Trevino 2 2-2 7, Riley Bennett 0 0-0 0, Jackson Dziedzic 0 0-0 0, Spencer Grage 4 0-1 8, Carter Klatt 1 0-0 2, Ryan Larson 0 0-0 0, Noah Laycock 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 3-9 35.
Sam Siganos 2 0-0 5, Carter Keller 1 0-0 3, Ty Smith 3 3-3 9, Deng Geu 5 3-5 14, Cole Benson 7 3-4 18, Robert Speeks 0 0-0 0, Jacob Johnson 0 0-0 0, Quinton Johnson 0 0-0 0, Jacob Skogstad 0 0-0 0, Jack Talley 1 0-0 2, Alipo Oluak 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 9-12 51.
Brandon Valley 10 10 4 11 – 35
Washington 13 15 16 7 – 51
Halftime – WHS 13, BV 10. 3-pointers – BV 2, WHS 4. Total fouls – BV 8, WHS 13. Fouled out – None. Rebounds – BV 23, WHS 30 (Geu 12). Assists – BV 6 (Choudek 3), WHS 13 (Siganos 4, Keller and J. Johnson 3). Steals – BV 5, WHS 9 (Smith 4). Blocked shots – BV 0, WHS 3 (Geu 3). Turnovers – BV 14, WHS 11.