When Panther Creek defeated Northern Durham (No. 6 in The News & Observer rankings) on Saturday as part of the Martin Luther King Holiday Classic hosted at Durham School of the Arts, it got the attention of another PAC-6 Conference team. When No. 7 Riverside played the Catamounts on Monday, it made sure to not let down its guard.
The result was a 82-62 Riverside win against Panther Creek.
“Northern’s a tough team. We play them in a week. If (Panther Creek) can play hard against them we knew we had to play hard,” said senior Markeise Crutchfield, who had game-highs in points (27) and rebounds (17).
Riverside coach Brian Strickland said Crutchfield’s energy was infectious.
“He did not settle for them keeping him outside the paint. He made sure that he attacked the basket tonight and I think that shows with his production tonight,” Strickland said.
Panther Creek (8-8, 4-2) was cold from outside the arc in the first half, hitting only two 3-pointers while falling behind 46-28. On the other end, Riverside was scoring almost every time down.
The Pirates pushed the pace in transition, found open shooters in the half-court and dominated the offensive glass. It was a perfect recipe to move to 13-4 on the season (1-2 PAC-6).
“We didn’t settle for the first shot or a good shot. A lot of times we went for the best shot. We penetrated and kicked well tonight. Our guards picked the right time to penetrate and they felt the flow of the game,” Strickland said.
In the third quarter, Panther Creek cut the 20-point lead to nine but couldn’t get any closer.
Catamounts star point guard Juan Munoz, who hit his head on the floor after being fouled on a fastbreak layup, was held to 14 points. He returned to the game in the second half after sitting out the last three minutes in the first half.
A.J. Morris picked up some of the scoring slack with a team-high 19 points. Justin Smalls added 12 points and 13 rebounds but no other Catamount collected more than four boards.
“We beat two good teams Friday and Saturday and kind of came out thinking things were going to be given to us. We gave up too many offensive rebounds, didn’t keep guys in front – we took things for granted,” Panther Creek coach Shawan Robinson said.
Robinson said “It’s possible” that playing three games in four days took its toll, but added “fatigue has never been an excuse for me.”
“We can compete and beat anybody, but on the flip side we can get beat by anybody,” Robinson said.
Riverside’s C.J. Carpenter had 12 points while Jareel Stewart had 15 off the bench. Sophomore Jordon Riley had nine points and eight rebounds while freshman Antonio Daye had seven points and seven assists filling in at point guard.
The Pirates are at Person on Friday in PAC-6 play, while Panther Creek hosts Middle Creek on Wednesday before traveling to Athens Drive on Friday.