APEX — The Panther Creek girls basketball team got out and ran to a big third quarter en route to a 58-43 win over Southwest Wake Athletic Conference foe Middle Creek on Friday.
Catamounts head coach Danielle Moore said her team likes to push the tempo, creating turnovers that lead to easy baskets. Panther Creek, led by Shotomei Greaux, who scored 19 points, went on a 12-0 run in the third period that broke open the game. The Catamounts improved to 9-4 overall, 2-1 in the SWAC.
Middle Creek (4-9, 0-3) trailed early, struggling with the Catamount trap defense, but then used a zone defense in the second period to get back in the game. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, when Panther Creek returned to its trapping, the game got away from them again.
What worked: The Catamounts scored most of their points, especially in their first- and third-quarter runs, by trapping the Mustangs, forcing turnovers and getting easy layups on the other end.
This defensive intensity helped Panther Creek jump out to a 17-6 lead after one period, and then it allowed them to turn a slim 28-24 lead into a 40-24 advantage in the decisive third.
“Coach (Moore) said we need to push the ball more, look for the open player, make good passes and then finish,” said senior Marissa Sims, who finished with 15 points. “Our chemistry works so well, we are all about incorporating everyone into the game.”
Middle Creek coach Wes Petty was proud of how his team battled to the end. The Mustangs won the final period 15-11. The Mustang zone defense also disrupted Panther Creek in the second quarter, as Middle Creek climbed back into the contest.
“Their press in that first quarter really put us in a hole,” Petty said. “We’re a very young team, but these girls kept battling and trying to give ourselves a chance.”
Needs improvement: Moore said the Catamounts need to learn how to put four quarters together and use the clock efficiently to close games.
Petty acknowledged the Mustangs are young, with three sophomores who play extensively, and they will need to keep working hard to learn how to handle pressing defenses like Panther Creek.
Highlight reel: Early in the game, Gabby Rogers scored all six of her points in about a 30-second span. All her baskets came off Catamount steals and the passes from Sims. Greaux, Kate Ulveling and Caila Spruill all found a hustling Rogers near the basket, where she converted each time.
Middle Creek guard Ashley Shenk drained a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that might have been good in a WNBA gym.
Putting up numbers: Middle Creek was led by junior Holly Hite and Shannon McLeod, who scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Top quote: “Greaux runs the point extremely well and is just a spitfire out there,” Moore said. “She has so much energy, and good things seem to happen to us when she is on the court and attacking hard.”