Blue Devils stay in region title hunt

  • Desmond Murray continues to highlight the Blue Devils on offense. Murray had 26 points in Friday’s win over RS-M.

Lately for the Williston-Elko High boys varsity basketball team, the blueprint to victory has been the play of their defense.

That trend continued Friday night in the Devils’ Den in a 73-64 triumph over Ridge Spring-Monetta High.

Williston-Elko High’s trademark pressure defense forced Ridge Spring-Monetta High to get careless with the ball, especially in the fourth quarter where the Blue Devils forced eight turnovers.

Williston-Elko High coach Mark Crossland seemed relieved after walking away with a win against a tough region rival.

“This was a very tough, tough game,” Crossland said. “Ridge Spring can be very explosive at times. I thought our team did a great job of playing man-to-man and forcing them into tough shots,” Crossland said.

With the win, Williston-Elko High improves to 13-4 overall and 8-2 in region play. The Blue Devils have beaten the Trojans twice in three meetings this season. WEHS defeated RS-M in the the Hawks’ Invitational title game.

The victory also keeps the Blue Devils within striking distance of the region crown at second place in Region IV.

”We talked about having intensity on defense,” Crossland said. “When we choose to get relaxed on defense, we usually struggle in games. But when we give maximum effort, it’s really tough to score on us.”

The Blue Devils rebounded nicely after a midweek loss at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler.

Junior swingman Desmond Murray had a lot to do with that. Murray showed why he’s one of the best overall players in class A with a 26 point, nine rebound and six assist performance. Murray did most of his damage in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of the team’s 25 points.

Senior forwards Demarkiis Doe and Meddikis Priester also made their presence felt offensively. Doe registered a double-double with a season-high 22 points to go along with nine rebounds and four steals.

Priester, who brought the home crowd to their feet with a couple of thunderous slam dunks, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Others shining in the contest included Keshawn Toney with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Austin Smith scored only five points, but his biggest impact was felt on defense where he helped shut down a potent Trojan backcourt.

“We couldn’t afford to dwell on the past,” Crossland said. “I was very proud of the way we came out tonight. Everybody did a good job of making sure we moved on to our next challenge.”