APEX — Middle Creek boys basketball coach David Kushner isn't sure his team has an offensive identity. But as the old adage goes, sometimes a good defense is a team's best offense.
Kushner's Mustangs forced 18 turnovers in the second half to cruise their way to a 77-47 victory against Fuquay-Varina in the Tri-Nine Conference opener for both.
"In the second half, we started pressing better and playing better defense," Kushner said. "Our defense is far ahead of our offense."
Middle Creek trailed 13-11 after the first quarter and led 33-25 at halftime.
But the Mustangs only allowed Fuquay six field goals in the second half, including just four points total in the third quarter.
Those turnovers and defensive rebounds led to fast-break opportunities.
"We have good rebounders, so every shot that went up we got a body on a man, got the rebound and got down court," said junior forward Khamari Bobbitt. "We've got more guards than big men, so we like to run a lot."
The Mustangs are defending Tri-Nine regular-season champions but return only four players who saw significant minutes.
Against the Bengals, some of lesser-known players from a year ago stepped up, including senior Brandon Hooks (12 points), Nick Bennett (10) and Marvin Wilson (nine).The player with the biggest night wasn't even on varsity last year, as Bobbitt notched a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) in his first game.
"You can see they worked on their game and got a lot better," Kushner said of his players. "Our depth will be the biggest reason for our success this year."
Fuquay, which fell to 1-2 overall, knows it must withstand opponents' defensive pressure better than it did in the second half.
The Bengals were led in scoring by senior Evan McNeill, who had 11 points.
"We're an experienced team," Fuquay coach Randy Barrow said. "And we're not quite ready for the pressure. We'll compete when we're not making unsound basketball choices when we have it."