The Panther Creek boys and Wakefield girls had to shake off the rust from not being able to practice since Monday and play first-round NCHSAA 4A playoff games at Greenville’s D.H. Conley on Saturday.
For the Catamounts, the breakthrough came a little too late in a 64-62 loss to the Viking boys.
The Wakefield girls had a different go with it, playing even for a little more than a half before falling behind in a 56-42 defeat.
Panther Creek boys fall
The Catamounts started slow against the Vikings. It was at that point where assistant coach Wingate Smith suggested to head coach Shawan Robinson that the Catamounts run fewer sets and start attacking the rim.
The adjustment nearly resulted in a wild comeback.
The Catamounts (13-12) were down by as much as 14 in the third quarter but tied it at 52-all with 6:10 to go.
“It just puts you in an aggressive mindset,” said Panther Creek first-year head coach Shawan Robinson.
Conley’s methodical halfcourt offense, which ended in several backdoor layups, steadied itself down the stretch and matched the Catamounts basket-for-basket.
“We just couldn’t get that one stop,” Robinson said. “We just got the memo late. You can call it what you want, make an excuse and say they practiced a couple of days and we didn’t. I don’t know if it was the pressure of the playoffs, the atmosphere – we just weren’t ready. When our backs were against the wall, we went down swinging.”
After two missed free throws with 9 seconds left, Panther Creek had two chances to end or extend the game. A Juan Munoz 3-pointer misfired and an A.J. Morris putback was poked away as he went up with it.
Munoz has 22 points for Panther Creek, Morris added 13 points and Justin Smalls had 10.
Morris and Alex Zietlow (six points) are the only seniors on this year’s team.
“It was a blast,” Robinson said of his first season. “Now it’s just a matter of expanding upon that experience.”
Conley’s boys will travel to Fayetteville’s Seventy-First on Monday.
Wakefield girls end year
Wakefield showed it could play with Conley for the first half, trailing only 23-19.
Conley had just two second-quarter points.
A basket to open the third quarter cut it to two. The next one rimmed out, and that was as close as the Wolverines got.
“We turned them over a few times and got back in it,” Wakefield coach Art Wollett said. “But then we could never get that one shot that we needed to get to get us going.”
Wakefield (11-13) also suffered from the week without practice. The team couldn’t get a morning shootout because county rules did not allow them to meet that early except to board the bus.
“We were hoping that coming down here, this layoff would have done us a lot of good, but it didn’t. And it showed with our not having a good feel for the basketball – we usually shoot the ball really well – and then our conditioning,” Wollett said.
Wakefield’s Samidria Rodgers had 18 points while teammate Tinasha Horton, who caught fire late, had 11.
“It was a good group. We did everything we were supposed to do in the conference except beat Leesville in the last game,” Wollett said. “(Going) 9-5 in the conference is a pretty good year for us.”
Conley’s girls will host Leesville Road on Monday.