It was far from the start Princeton’s boys basketball team expects to have. And, despite a late comeback bid, it was far from the result the Bulldogs needed in their chase for a conference championship.
Spring Creek downed Princeton 47-41 Tuesday night, taking advantage of its solid defensive stretches and the Bulldogs’ inability to find much if any offense until the last 11 minutes of play.
Princeton scored just six first-quarter points and 11 first-half points.
“We had no more than 12 or 15 shots in the first half because of our mistakes,” said Princeton coach Jeff Davis. “We can’t be a team that has more turnovers than shots.
“We just played horrible and you don’t expect that from a team with so many juniors and seniors. Our experience is supposed to be our strength.”
Down by as many as 20 in the third quarter, the Bulldogs’ offense started to find some bite on back-to-back 3-pointers by Michael Wooten that cut the lead to 35-23 with 2:05 to play in the third quarter.
But the Gators answered with a 3 of their own and scored the final five points of the quarter to push the lead back to 17 points entering the fourth.
Junior forward Tanner Woodard had a pair of three-point plays in the fourth quarter, the last getting Princeton within 42-36. And Javaris Williams scored after a Colby Norris steal to cut the lead to 42-38 but the Bulldogs came up with just three points the rest of the way.
Norris, Wooten and Woodard all had 10-point nights for Princeton. Chad Spurgeon had a game-high 15 points for the Gators.
Spring Creek’s Malik Mitchell split a Princeton trap attempt and drove in for a layup for a 45-39 lead with 25 seconds left to seal the victory.
The result left both squads at 2-2 in the Carolina 1A Conference. Spring Creek is 6-5 overall, Princeton is 7-6.
It is the sixth time in seven years that the Bulldogs have lost to Spring Creek. It was a costly setback considering the Gators played without their best player and had another key contributor slowed by an injury.
The loss could prove costly in a league that Davis expects to be very competitive in the chase for the Carolina 1A Conference championship.
“Our margin of error is now zero,” Davis said. “We can’t afford any more bad nights if we want to be part of the championship chase in this conference.”