Don't tell anyone, but here's the secret to beating Enochs High.
Step one, get center Marcus Bell in foul trouble. Step two, limit the touches of marksman Tyler Wasden.
Well, that's no secret, and it's exactly what Johansen accomplished Wednesday night in the Modesto Metro Conference first-place showdown. It wasn't nearly enough.
With the MMC's top inside-outside tandem limited, sophomore Matt Iles stepped up to score 23 points for the Eagles as they took control of the MMC boys basketball race with a 74-55 victory.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
"Tonight, even though we looked ragged, we moved in the direction of becoming a team," said Enochs coach Wayne McGhee. "It's been a struggle all year. We haven't played our best game yet."
Yes, even in a 19-point decision, a victory in which Enochs (17-6, 5-1 MMC) outscored Johansen (8-15, 4-2) in every quarter, imagine how wide the final spread would have been had Bell not been limited to 13 minutes of playing time and had Wasden had more than a few looks at the basket.
Add to that 19 turnovers and an 8-for-21 free throw performance and it becomes clear Enochs has yet to peak.
The same obviously is true for Iles, whose varsity career has barely begun. The 5-foot-10-inch guard scored 14 points for Enochs during an 18-3 Eagles' run in the third quarter that put the game out of the Vikings' reach.
With Wasden limited to three points and Bell on the bench for all but 3 minutes, 42 seconds of the first half, Enochs led only 38-30 early in the third quarter.
That's when Iles took over, hitting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, scoring on a fast break and hitting a third long-range jumper for a 49-33 lead. He capped the run with his fourth 3-pointer of the quarter to give the Eagles a 56-33 lead with 2:06 left.
"When Marcus was in foul trouble and Tyler wasn't getting the ball I felt the need to step up," Iles said. "I've been hitting my shots lately, so it was OK to shoot a little more."
Johansen, which got 19 points from Eric Chavez, cut the gap to 12 points in the final four minutes, but never got close enough to scare the home crowd.
Bell made the most of his 13 minutes, finishing with 15 points, while Craig McMahon finished with 10 off the bench for Enochs.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.