Panther Creek put itself in a position to clinch a berth in the state boys’ basketball tournament with an impressive 86-69 victory on the road Tuesday at Holly Springs.
The win moved the Catamounts (12-11, 8-5 Southwest Wake Athletic Conference) into a four-way tie for second in the league with Holly Springs, Cary and Green Hope.
“Every game is a must-win for us,” PC coach Shawan Robinson said. “We’ve got to come out every night like we’re in the playoffs already. Our guys really responded. My theme for the night was, ‘Who are we?’ They stepped up.”
The Catamounts control their postseason hopes, as a win on the road against Green Hope puts them in the playoffs.
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“You can’t rest,” Robinson said. “It’s been like that every night in the SWAC. We’ll prepare like we normally do and try to get another Senior Night.”
Holly Springs (12-10, 8-5 SWAC) can clinch a playoff spot if it wins at first-place Apex and Green Hope beats Panther Creek (a Panther Creek win likely keeps Holly Springs in fourth place, outside of the three automatic spots).
Juan Munoz scored 27 points for the Catamounts, including 22 in the first half as Panther Creek drilled eight 3-pointers to snare a 46-36 halftime lead.
But the Golden Hawks responded on their Senior Night, cutting the lead to 61-58 with a 14-2 run keyed by Jordan Brown’s 12 third-quarter points.
A follow-up dunk by Tyler Smith stopped the run and started a Panther Creek spree. Justin Smalls scored eight points – all on offensive rebounds – during a 14-2 burst that pushed the lead to 77-61.
Holly Springs missed its first five shots of the fourth quarter, but offense wasn’t the problem Tuesday. The Hawks shot 49 percent and made 10 of 23 3s, getting 27 points from Ryan Blount and 16 from Brown.
“Giving up 80-some points is absurd,” Holly Springs coach Richard Young said. “You can’t give up 80 points and expect to win. That middle stretch where we won six games in a row, we played really good defense. But I don’t know what’s happened over the last two weeks.”
Panther Creek made 11 of 22 3-pointers, getting 15 points from A.J. Morris and 11 from Riley Adams.