RALEIGH — Athens Drive vs. Panther Creek boys basketball
Panther Creek freshman Juan Munoz admires the way Boston Celtics star Rajon Rondo plays the game, always seeing the floor and distributing the ball to his teammates.
On Tuesday, Munoz resembled his favorite NBA player, dishing out assists, running the floor, and even throwing in a little scoring too.
Munoz scored 16 points and added several assists to help the visiting Catamounts earn their first win of the season with a 63-48 victory over Tri-9 conference foe Athens Drive.
Panther Creek junior forward Gaquez Hudson also scored 16 points and freshman Akeem Tate added 11 as the Catamounts led by double digits the entire second half.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are playing together for the first time,” said Panther Creek head coach L.J. Hepp. “It is exciting to see this group grow into becoming a team. Tonight we played with passion and energy and did the simple things you have to do to get better.”
Hepp, the Catamounts first coach when the school opened in 2006, is back for his second stint with Panther Creek. He described Munoz as a complete player who really sees the floor, has a high basketball IQ and understands the game at a level usually shown by upperclassmen.
Panther Creek (1-3, 1-0), which led 32-20 at intermission, forced the young Jaguars into numerous turnovers, especially before halftime. Athens head coach Robert Clemons said the Jaguars committed 13 first half turnovers which led to 20 Catamount points, many coming on fast breaks which Munoz either scored on or assisted.
“Tonight was the first night I scored like that,” Munoz said. “I usually think pass first. Tonight we were just trying to play as a whole team, and it felt great to get that first ‘W’.”
Athens Drive (0-4, 0-1) jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the game’s opening minutes, but quickly fell into a hole after a 15-0 run by Panther Creek, featuring the fast-breaking trio of Munoz, Tate and Hudson.
“We’re young and inexperienced, so turnovers are going to be a problem, but it’s the type of turnovers we committed that hurts,” said Clemons, whose Jaguars lost eight seniors that were a part of last year’s playoff team. “The one thing I was pleased with was the kids played hard, played aggressive and never stopped working.”
Senior Jason West (13 points) and junior Kashawn Middleton (12) paced Athens Drive.