Panther Creek’s basketball teams left no doubt in the final “Battle of the Creeks” quad match-up, sweeping Middle Creek at home.
The Catamounts’ girls never trailed, downing the Mustangs by 23 to win their sixth in a row.
The Panther Creek boys bounced back from a 13-point loss on Jan. 5, running away in the second half thanks to an offensive showcase from Justin McKoy, Tyler Smith and Justin Smalls.
Panther Creek’s Zanah Boyd scored the first basket of the night and the Catamounts never looked back, trouncing Middle Creek 54-31 Friday night.
Kalaya Hall hit a 22-foot 3-pointer as time expired to give the Catamounts a 30-15 lead heading into the intermission, and the lead only grew from there.
“We started off rocky and now we’re kind of hitting our stride, getting that winning streak and working hard,” PC coach Danielle Moore said. “It’s nice to see things finally piece together.”
The Catamounts hit seven 3s, four of which came from Hall, who finished with 18 points. The long-range success came from an inside-out approach to attacking the Mustang’s zone defense.
“We’ve got some shooters, we like to shoot,” Moore said. “One thing we talked about was getting more inside touches so we could get some more outside looks.”
Middle Creek was led by Cassie Beam, who had 10 points. Carisma Lynn had three points and seven boards.
Gabby Rogers contributed eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Catamounts.
Coming off a crucial conference win over Cary the preceding night, Middle Creek came staggering out of the gates against Panther Creek, falling behind 14 by the time the first quarter ended.
“After a big victory last night, on the road, we were a little flat to start, which I think was to be expected,” Middle Creek coach David Kushner said.
The Mustangs dropped 21 points in the second quarter, cutting the deficit to 38-32 at the intermission, but ran out of gas in the second half.
“It was the decision-making on our shots. We were really hustling for loose balls and then we’d shoot a jump shot every single time,” Kushner said. “We were down one, we were down three, we were down five and it kept snowballing as everyone tried to make that big shot when all we needed to do is penetrate.”
Panther Creek got big scoring nights out of Justin McKoy (16 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists), Tyler Smith (22 points, eight rebounds) and Justin Smalls (15 points, eight rebounds), but it would’ve been far harder if not for the smart play of junior point guard Riley Adams.
“When (Adams) is in transition and he gets to that foul line and makes good decisions, we’re as good as anyone around,” Panther Creek coach Shawan Robinson said.
It helps that Adams has a variety of players to dish the ball to.
“(McKoy and Smith) are strong down low and (opponents) have to choose who to guard,” Robinson said. “When they’re flying around and playing unselfishly, we’re pretty tough out.”
The Mustangs have only had four practices (while playing 10 games) since receiving multi-sport athletes like Daniel Jackson and Shammond Hicks from the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA East runner-up football team.
So, while Middle Creek has dug itself into a hole as far as the conference crown is concerned, Kushner still sees a lot of promise moving forward once the team’s chemistry begins to click.
Middle Creek was led by Jackson (13 points) and Hicks (14 points).