Big crowds at home are one telltale sign of school building a basketball reputation. Cary Christian’s conference title last year developed such a following that has carried over to this season with packed gyms for the start of the 2014-15 season.
But Wake Christian ended Cary Christian’s 13-game home-court winning streak that dated back to February 2013 and tempered the full house in the process with a 79-63 Friday night in the nightcap of a non-conference girls-boys double-header.
“This is the best senior class we’ve had at Cary Christian,” said Knights head coach Bill Thompson, “and when you play good basketball people want to come out and see you.”
Wake Christian coach Chris Underwood was especially happy with the convincing win as the visiting team.
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“We played with a lot of energy, which was great to see when you come out and play against big crowd on the road,” Underwood said. “We were able to get the ball inside in the second half with the pass or a dribble and that got the momentum going our way.”
Cary Christian (6-5) only lost to Wake Christian (7-4) by a 52-50 score 17 days ago, but the Knights were without leading scorer Caleb Ellis this time. He suffered a shoulder injury last week that will keep him out until early January.
The Knights were also without sixth man Rapha Rohlfs and two other sick players. The nine available players total was soon down to seven when Isaac Winter-Hartley and Nick Smith both picked up their fifth foul in the first minute of the fourth period.
But in reality the Bulldogs put the game away with a 33-point third quarter to turn a 32-31 halftime deficit into a 64-47 lead. Junior point guard Rob Whitfield and senior forward Isaiah Moore sparked the outburst as Whitfield finished with 28 points and Moore 24. Blake Buffaloe added 11.
Moore was spectacular with four dunks in the third period. Two were off set plays when he broke out of the right corner to receive passes to the basket and a third was on a fastbreak. The fourth was a slam off a lob pass from Whitfeld. Despite Moore’s highlights, Whitfield’s passing makes the Bulldogs go.
“I like to get everybody involved,” said Whitfield, who had his own dunk and two three-point field goals. “That’s the key to a good team.”
It was a big week for Wake Christian, which had toppled Panther Creek – a school about five times larger – by 14 on Monday in overtime.
Cary Christian senior Jason Thompson picked up the scoring slack without Ellis and led the Knights with 26 points. Devin Dukes and Greg DeDecker added nine each.
Cary Christian girls roll
The Cary Christian girls (5-4) were listed as senior, junior, sophomore and freshman next to their names on the varsity roster for Friday night’s 49-14 win over Wake Christian (0-9).
But the space next to Katie Dixon’s name that was penciled in was left blank. The 7th-grader was emergency call-up from the JV team.
“I didn’t want to call her up, but then the calls kept coming in from players who were sick,” said Cary Christian coach Shelly Holmes, who dressed only seven players for the game. “She said she was really nervous, but she didn’t look it. She’s been dominating on our JV team.”
Dixon not only displayed veteran court awareness, she hit double-digits in her varsity debut with 10 points. She also had a slick assist on an inside pass to Marie Thompson breaking down the lane for a layup.
“I was nervous when I first got in the game,” said Dixon, who was proud to say she was recently measured as having grown to 5-foot-tall. “But my teammates encouraged me and I started to feel stronger.”
Thompson led Cary Christian with 19 points and sophomore Grace Smith added 14.
Lindsey Jackson led Wake Christian with six points on two 3-point field goals.