For the Canton Warriors, the offensive strategy is pretty simple. As Emmett Watson goes, Canton goes. And just like all season, Watson carried Canton when it needed carried the most.
With just a two-point lead at halftime, Watson carried the load for Canton in the third quarter, exploding for 10 points as the Warriors cruised past Line Mountain, 52-37, in the first round of the District 4 Class A playoffs on Tuesday night at Montoursville.
With a 2-3 zone begging the Warriors to shoot over the top, Watson stepped up big in the definitive third quarter, scoring 10 of the team's 17 points to push Canton's lead to 14 points.
"He does what we need him to do. We need him to knock down some 3's and man up on the other team's best player and we need him to make free throws when he gets to the line," Canton head coach Lance Larcom said. "He's our scorer. When he scores like that we can have Eddie (Larcom) play more of a distributor role and there isn't as much pressure for him to score."
Along with Watson, both Eddie Larcom and Mason Moore made scoring from the outside a habit, helping cover up the struggles that Canton faced when trying to score in the paint against Line Mountain's zone.
"We shot well from outside, but I don't even want to count how many layups we missed," Larcom said. "They sat in a 2-3 zone and wanted us to shoot over them and we hit some. It was a good plan by them and we were fortunate we hit some."
The scoring didn't always come easy for the Warriors, however, as Watson's run didn't come until the second half. Canton struggled to get the ball into the paint in the first quarter before turning to sixth man Mason Moore to help spread the floor in the second. Moore came in off the bench and immediately buried two 3-pointers to give Canton a boost going into halftime.
"He comes off the bench cold and we set up a couple of plays to hit some 3's," Larcom said. "He hits them and we sit him back down. When we need a couple 3's again he comes back in."
For Line Mountain, scoring was even more difficult, as Canton came out in the second half in it's own 2-3 zone, forcing the Eagles to take tough, contested shots from the perimeter. And despite performances from Bill Breinich and Cole Rickert that saw the duo almost will their team to victory at times, the Eagles fell short against Canton's zone.
"We kind of decided coming out of the locker room to go to a zone and we said 'let's see if they can shoot over us at all'," Larcom said. "We said let's make them earn it and make us get out of this 2-3."
Line Mountain (27)
John Mojica 0 0-0 0, Brady Michael 0 0-0 0, Bill Breinich 2 4-4 8, Joe Weiler 2 0-0 5, Kellan Masser 0 0-0 0, Cole Rickert 4 0-3 10, Elijah Zabosky 0 0-0 0, Dillan Michael 1 0-0 2, Coltin Hunsberger 2 0-1 5, Codi Morris 1 2-4 4, Dylan Bartholomew 1 0-0 3. Totals 13 6-11 37.
Eddie Larcom 3 0-0 8, John Bowman 0 0-0 0, Christian Thoren 0 0-0 0, Mason Moore 2 0-0 6, Tim Bassett 3 0-0 6, Jesse Lattimer 2 0-4 4, Emmett Watson 7 4-4 21, Wes Moore 3 1-2 7, Dylan Fleet 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 5-10 52.
Line Mountain 7 13 5 12 - 37
Canton 12 10 17 13 - 52
3-Point goals: Line Mountain 4 (Weiler, Rickert 2, Hunsberger), Canton 7 (Larcom 2, M. Moore 2, Watson 3)