A game where defense was a theme throughout the full 32 minutes finished in a fitting manner. Fuquay-Varina’s Lakeia Jones had a buzzer-beating shot fall harmlessly off the glass in the game’s closing seconds following a span in which both teams combined to shoot 1 for 6 from the free throw line in the game’s final minute.
The Panther Creek girls basketball team found their second conference win, defeating a familiar foe in Fuquay-Varina, 34-33 to move into a three-way tie with Fuquay and Cary for sixth place in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
Panther Creek (5-15, 2-9) defeated Fuquay-Varina (8-12, 2-9) 40-33 in its initial meeting just under a month ago.
It took until 5:13 remaining in the first quarter for either team to score. Anna Huryn, who broke open the scoreless game, carried the rest of the offensive load in the first quarter as Panther Creek raced out to a 12-6 lead.
“Anna was clutch in the first half – she came in and went to work in the post, played with confidence, finished well,” Panther Creek head coach Danielle Moore said. “She did things we’ve been asking her to do all year and tonight she showed up and played an incredible game.”
Huryn left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury.
Both teams got some offense going, but not for an extended period. Fuquay-Varina outscored Panther Creek 11-2 in the second quarter, only to allow the Catamounts to take the third quarer 14-4.
Defense was the most crucial part of this game, as both teams ran a full court press defense for the majority of the game, resulting in a combined 40 turnovers (Panther Creek 18, Fuquay-Varina 22).
Sophomore Gabby Rogers lead the charge on the defensive side of the floor for the Catamounts, recording 15 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.
“My shot wasn’t dropping early and I’m always more than happy to contribute with my rebounds and steals,” Rogers said. “As long as I’m helping my team out, I don’t mind where it goes on the stat sheet … I figured if I contributed hard on defense, I’d be able to stay in the game and get the win.”
Knowing the game’s possible impact on the final standings combined with the fact that Panther Creek already had a win under its belt against Fuquay-Varina gave the Catamounts an extra source of confidence.
“There definitely was more of a spark with us knowing we could win this game because we had done so before,” Rogers said. “Personally, my motivation stays the same for every game.”
Panther Creek heads into Friday night with a pending matchup with Apex (13-7, 8-3); a game Moore believes her squad has a chance to compete in.
“We take this motivation heading to Apex knowing that on any given night we play Panther Creek basketball we can compete with anyone in the league,” she said.
Despite only three games remaining in the regular season, the final conference standings are far from set.
“You’ve got to understand, in this league anything is possible, anything can happen with other teams beating each other up,” Fuquay-Varina coach Gail Siemer said. “Right now there’s four at the clear top, and four at the bottom mixing it up, respectively.”
Junior point guard Kelley Suggs scored 10 points for the Bengals and played the entire game.
“It’s great to have a steady person to be able to handle the ball and know that she’s going to be good,” Siemer said. “She helps to set up the offense and is a leader.”
The Bengals’ senior captains Amber Roberson and Lakeia Jones combined for 12 points and 15 rebounds in the effort.