Cary’s boys basketball team extended its regular-season win streak, which dates back to last year, to nine in a 67-45 win against visiting Panther Creek in the first Southwest Wake Athletic Conference game of the season.
Cory Gensler and Jay Hicks combined for 20 points in the first half while the Imps locked down on the defensive end, heading into the halftime break up 35-12.
“Offense has never been a problem for this team,” Cary coach Allan Gustafson said. “In the offseason we spent 70 percent of our practice time working on defense, the progress we’ve made has been a certain effort… the defense shows up every night.”
The work has paid off, as Cary (5-0, 1-0) has cut down on its points allowed per game, reducing last year’s 63.5 number down to 56.6 this season despite opening the year with a rigorous schedule.
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On a team where Gensler and Donte Tatum are the self-titled “Fire and Ice” duo, Gustafson says it’s players like Jay Hicks (16 points) who will take the team to the next level.
“We won’t go as far as where (Gensler) and (Tatum) take us, but where our other guys take us,” Gustafson said. “When Hicks has a game like that, we’re awfully hard to beat.”
Panther Creek’s Juan Munoz lead the way in the second half, scoring 13 of his 22 points as the Catamounts (1-1, 0-1) outscored Cary 33-32 in the final two periods of play.
“We settled into it; we won the second half,” Panther Creek coach Shawan Robinson said. “I’m waiting to see who’s going to (step up), who’s going to be that second or third scorer.”
With 2:16 to go in the first quarter, Kyle Gensler swatted away Juan Munoz’s midrange jumper, and Cary finished the quarter on a 9-2 run after being knotted up at 7-7.
They said it
“Before the game, I told my team that I’ve coached my entire career to coach this team.” – Gustafson
Three who mattered
Cory Gensler, Cary: Gensler scored 22 points, nailing three 3-pointers.
Juan Munoz, Panther Creek: Munoz was a dominant offensive force, scoring 48.9 percent of the Catamounts’ points.
Jay Hicks, Cary: Hicks scored eight points in each half and led all players with eight boards.
By the numbers
10: Turnovers by Panther Creek in the first quarter. Cary had 13 on the entire night.
29-to-17: Advantage in which Cary outrebounded Panther Creek.