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When Davenport North's boys basketball team lost to Pleasant Valley on the road in December, Lacey Watson was a spectator.

"I felt like we didn't have enough energy in that game," Watson said.

Watson played in the rematch and provided the energy the Wildcats lacked in the first meeting.

The result was North's best performance of the season, a 57-45 victory over Class 4A fifth-ranked PV on Friday night at North High School.

North coach Joe Ewen called it the team's best win in his tenure.

The Wildcats (12-2, 9-5 MAC) were engaged on both ends of the floor. Watson had 12 of his 14 points in the opening half, and North used an 11-2 run in the third quarter to seize control.

"Lacey is our source of energy," senior Max Taylor said. "Even when he's not scoring, he's still talking and keeping everybody up. We feed off that."

Taylor spurred the Wildcats' third-quarter surge. He had seven points in that span to turn a 28-25 lead into a 39-27 advantage.

The Wildcats forced the Spartans (14-2, 12-2) into 10 turnovers, a high number for a team known for their offensive efficiency.

Ewen credited assistant coach Justin Harper for the defensive game plan. North limited Hunter Snyder to four points and Brian Dayman finished with 10, six of those on 3-pointers. North spent most of the game face-guarding Snyder.

"This gives our guys a lot of confidence," Ewen said. "Outside of the buzzer-beating loss at Muscatine, we're on a seven-, eight-game win streak. Our guys are playing with a ton of confidence, a ton of swag. They're just excited and playing well."

And North is getting plenty of contributions.

In addition to Taylor's 16 points and Watson's 14, post Jared Beck chipped in 10 points and four rebounds.

Watson was the one to trigger the Wildcats. He knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and had an emphatic dunk in the second quarter.

"If he's going to bang in 22-footers and dunk when he drives, that's a Division I basketball player," PV coach Steve Hillman said. "So, yeah, he makes a big difference on that team. He was really good tonight."

Watson missed the first half of the season for North after transferring from Rock Island. He's had glimpses of brilliance, but admitted this was his best showing in a North uniform.

"He's still getting his feet under him," Ewen said. "Tonight he showed the player he can be and how much he can help us. He adds another dynamic."

Hillman felt his team lost patience on the offensive end in the third quarter. He shouldered most of the blame for that afterward.

"We got out of what we do," Hillman noted. "We got down 10 to 12 points in the third, and there is still plenty of basketball left to play. We rushed possessions and started playing quick. That's on us as a coaching staff."

It fed into North's hands.

The Wildcats were able to get several run-outs for easy baskets to keep the Spartans at bay.

Carter Duwa, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer at Davenport West on Tuesday, finished with a game-high 20 points. The Spartans still hold a share of the Mississippi Athletic Conference lead with North Scott with four games remaining.

North, meanwhile, is in a third-place tie with Muscatine at 9-5.

"This shows what we're capable of and much more," Watson said. "We're still building as a team and all coming together as one.

"It is a good win, but we've got to put it in the past and get back to work."


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.