CARY — The Southwest Wake 4A boys high school basketball showdown that started last Friday ended Thursday night with Apex taking sole possession of first place by coming back for a 74-61 win against Panther Creek.
The Catamounts had held the upper hand 20-14 early in the second quarter when Nubian Spanns dunk shattered the backboard on a play that was seen all around the world.
I had never been through anything like that, Apex coach David Neal said. We were able to look really hard at the first quarter and see what we wanted to do different. One thing was, they really had the momentum at that time.
But the Cougars (8-6, 5-0), led by T.J. Evans 37 points, owned the momentum for the most part Thursday.
Evans 3-pointer tied the score at 26 at halftime. Apex sophomore Ian Boyd drove for a basket to open the second half and Evans hit another 3 and the Cougars led the rest of the game.
Wow, we scored a lot of points, put up a bunch tonight, Neal said. T.J. Evans had his biggest game of the year. T.J. Wells was spectacular with some of his finishes and with Boyd I thought they were our three best players coming into the year and they were awesome tonight on both ends of the floor. Ian was a beast. Hes such a competitor.
We had a week to think about the glass getting shattered and SportsCenter. Its nothing I did, but I think it motivated our guys. We were just as focused and together as weve been all year.
They did, though, have to fight off the Catamounts (12-2, 4-1). Sophomore Juan Munoz, who scored 26, hit three 3-pointers late in the third quarter to pull Panther Creek within 49-45. Again, Apex rallied to pull away.
Hes special, as a player and person, Catamounts coach L.J. Hepp said of Munoz. But credit Apex. They had some kids play really well tonight. But how do kids respond to a week like this with a little bit of national attention? I guess we saw a little bit tonight. We talked about it a good bit and had a good workout (Wednesday), but more than that, I thought Apex was just really good tonight.
One change Apex made was getting shots for Davis Dupree on the baseline. He hit two 3s and two other jumpers for 10 big points.
Davis looked about as comfortable in the corner as you can look, Neal said. His stroke is pretty and fortunately for us it was going in tonight.
After Munoz, Malachi Paige added 15 for Panther Creek.