Second round trip to Wilmington a gift or curse for Panther Creek?

Justin Mckoy, left, of Panther Creek drives to the basket against Jared Moore, center, and Bryan Quiller (15) of Cary. The Panther Creek Catamounts played the Cary Imps in a high school men basketball game on February 26, 2019.
Justin Mckoy, left, of Panther Creek drives to the basket against Jared Moore, center, and Bryan Quiller (15) of Cary. The Panther Creek Catamounts played the Cary Imps in a high school men basketball game on February 26, 2019.

Panther Creek took care of business in the opening round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs, defeating Cary, 71-47.

Now the Catamounts will get on a bus and travel to No. 7 Hoggard on Thursday. The second round of the playoffs can be a roll of the dice: teams can play a familiar foe or a team that know nothing about.

Panther Creek knows a little about the Vikings (20-7). The Catamounts defeated Hoggard, 71-50, in December in Wilmington. The good news for Panther Creek head coach Shawan Robinson is they have seen Hoggard before, so he doesn’t have to worry about scouting a team he knows nothing about. The bad news is the Vikings have seen the Catamounts as well.

“It’s a gift and a curse, they are familiar with what you do so they don’t have to do that much scouting either,” Robinson said. “It is nice to know that you are playing against somebody you’ve seen. I haven’t seen them since December, but you kind of know their personnel and what they are capable of. I just hope our guys can make the two-hour trip and perform.”

Panther Creek senior, and Penn State commit, Justin McKoy led the Catamounts (23-5) with 20 points in their rubber match with Cary (8-17). Daylen Berry added 14 points for Panther Creek. The Imps were led by Aaron Smith and Jared Moore, who each scored 8. Cary played most of the game without senior captain, and leading scorer, Jett Fortuny, who left in the first quarter after taking a shot to the face.

Fortuny scored five quick points in the opening quarter, his final bucket of his career giving the Imps a 9-8 lead. Cary would led 15-14 after the first quarter, but never led the game again after Panther Creek went up 16-14 after a basket from Mason Taylor. Robinson realized Fortuny’s absence was a huge lost for the Imps.

“They lost one of the best players I’ve coached against since I’ve been here,” Robinson said. “He spreads the floor a little bit and opens up drives for them. When he went down we could really focus on protecting the paint and rebounding. I hate it for that kid, but that’s kind of why the tide turned.”

Cary only scored five points in the second quarter, three of those coming from the free throw line right before the half. The Imps scored on a layup to pull within five (22-17), then went eight straight possessions without scoring. Panther Creek led 32-20 at the break and got it going offensively after a slow start.

Robinson said his guys were able to settle down, perhaps playing tight early under the pressure of the win or go home playoff mentality.

“The first round is always tough,” Robinson said. “I warned my guys that (today) could be a trap game. We had to bring our own energy; Justin was able to get going, he hit some jump shots and we found our rhythm.”

The Catamounts had it going at the free throw line, connecting on 34 of 37 free throws in the game.

“That’s probably the best we’ve shot since I’ve been a coach,” Robinson said. “I am very impressed with that number.”

Panther Creek will now visit a Hoggard team that’s had a tough time against programs from the Triangle this year. The Vikings are 0-3 against Wake County this season, falling to Panther Creek, Broughton (77-44) and Wakefield (56-41).

4A men’s results

No. 17 Leesville Road 67, No. 16 Riverside 52

No. 9 Knightdale 75, No. 24 Overhills 68

No. 12 Broughton 76, No. 21 Green Hope 64

No. 13 Garner 91, No. 20 Lumberton 78

No. 14 Rolesville 74, No. 19 Cardinal Gibbons 70

No. 11 Pinecrest 50, No. 22 Sanderson 40

No. 18 Apex Friendship 91, No. 15 Heritage 79

4A women’s results

No. 16 Rolesville 65, No. 17 Green Hope 58

No. 9 Leesville Road 65, No. 24 Garner 46

No. 21 Middle Creek 63, No. 12 Lumberton 57

No. 20 Athens Drive 46, No. 13 Apex Friendship 40

No. 14 Millbrook 64, No. 19 Knightdale 44

No. 22 Riverside-Durham 47, No. 11 Hoggard 35

No. 10 Jordan 74, No. 23 Overhills 40

No. 15 Cardinal Gibbons 63, No. 18 Seventy-First 62

3A men’s results

No. 1 Hillside 58, No. 32 West Brunswick 49

No. 4 Williams 69, No. 29 Northern Durham 50

No. 11 South Johnston 61, No. 22 Chapel Hill 47

No. 7 East Wake 52, No. 26 Rocky Mount 48

No. 23 Northwood 48, No. 10 Southern Durham 47,

No. 18 Dudley 63, No. 15 Harnett Central 56,

No. 2 Northern Nash 75, No. 31 Havelock 61

3A women’s results

No. 16 Rocky Mount 47, No. 17 Harnett Central 39

No. 8 East Wake 74, No. 25 Western Alamance 72

No. 4 Hillside 79, No. 29 New Hanover 32

No. 19 Eastern Wayne 62, No. 14 Clayton 53

No. 7 Hunt 54, No. 26 Williams 52

No. 23 Southern Durham 59, No. 10 Topsail 51

No. 18 Eastern Alamance 57, No. 15 Orange 52

No. 2 Southern Guildford 57, No. 31 Chapel Hill 29

2A men’s results

No. 1 Farmville Central 93, No. 32 Providence Grove 43

No. 9 Kinston 63, No. 24 J.F. Webb 35

No. 4 Vance County 82, No. 29 Bartlett Yancey 53

No. 3 Goldsboro 68, No. 30 Clinton 59

No. 15 South Granville 80, No. 18 West Craven 69

No. 2 Greene Central 90, No. 31 Beddingfield 64

2A women’s results

No. 1 Farmville Central 66, No. 32 Heide Trask 21

No. NCSSM 56, No. South Lenior 32

No. 3 Kinston 64, No. 30 North Johnston 33

1A men’s results

No. 8 Pamlico County 94, No. 25 Franklinton Academy 62

No. 24 Chatham Central 58, No. 9 Ocracoke 56,

No. 15 Granville Central 54, No. 28 East Columbus 44

No. 3 Northwest Halifax 79, No. 30 Raleigh Charter 48

No. 11 Voyager Academy 55, No. 22 Gates County 49

No. 18 Louisburg 65, No. 15 Bear Grass Charter 46

No. 2 Henderson Charter 87, No. 31 Lejeune 44

1A women’s results

No. 5 Vance Charter 70, No. 28 Franklin Academy 31

No. 13 Henderson Collegiate 61, No. 20 South Davidson 45

No. 4 Chatham Central 54, No. 29 Voyager Academy 28

No. 10 Raleigh Charter 51, No. 23 Gates County 39

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.