Defense rests

Modesto High's Joseph Giglio attempts to block the shot of Enocks High's Tayler Wasden on Wednesday night.
Modesto High's Joseph Giglio attempts to block the shot of Enocks High's Tayler Wasden on Wednesday night. Modesto Bee

Alex Williams made just one shot Wednesday, a 3-pointer to open the second half, but he had as much to do with Modesto High's win as anyone on the court.

Williams' tight defense in the third quarter not only kept 3-point ace Tyler Wasden from the ball, it threw Enochs' into a tailspin from which it never recovered.

"Alex makes our starters work hard in practice, so we sent him out to keep (Wasden) from getting easy looks," said Modesto coach Don Wallace, after a 79-48 victory to open the Modesto Metro Conference.

Wasden hit three treys in the first half, but he was shut out after intermission. With Williams removing Wasden from the offense, Modesto went on a 29-7 run.

"Coach told me to make sure he didn't get any open looks," said the 6-foot senior guard. "I was right up on him, working to deny him the ball. When he got it, I forced him to put the ball on the floor because he's a better shooter when he has time to see the basket."

Williams' defense, which began once Wasden came across halfcourt and continued until the Panthers got their hands on the ball, set the tempo for the half.

"I was working so hard on defense that I didn't worry about scoring," Williams said. "I knew if we played good defense, the offense would take care of itself."

Enochs (3-10, 0-1) did its best to keep Modesto out of their transition game, but Williams' defense led to a faster tempo that created open-court opportunities.

After Williams hit his trey to start the second half, 6-7 center Josh Jones (11 points, six rebounds) hit two free throws and hit a breakaway layup for a 44-25 lead. Nate Jackson (16 points) hit two 3-pointers and Justin Romero (20 points) added another -- as Enochs began to tire -- and Jones put in a miss to make it 55-27.

The Panthers' finest performance of the season coincided with the return of coach Don Wallace, whose father passed away Dec. 27 from colon cancer.

"We played with out heart and passion tonight, and that made the difference," said Wallace, whose club had lost three in a row. "While I was gone, I had heard that we were struggling in the first quarter. Our big goal tonight was to come out hard from the start."

After Enochs went up 6-4 on two 3-pointers, Modesto went on a 9-0 run. Six-foot-8 center Matt Vermeulen scored all 10 of his points in the first quarter, and his eight rebounds helped the Panthers to a 42-30 edge.

Enochs' 6-7 Marcus Bell had 18 points and nine rebounds, but there was little consistency beyond that.