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Cary head coach Allan Gustafson knew how much a win would mean to his young Imps boys basketball team, but he also knew visiting Fuquay-Varina felt the exact same way.
Both the Imps and Bengals entered Tuesday’s Tri-9 Conference matchup seeking their first win of the year, and after three quarters were separated by just a point.
Ultimately the Imps turned missed Bengal baskets into easy transition scores and surged to an impressive 59-54 victory over Fuquay-Varina, ending their winless streak at seven games.
Cary freshman Cory Gensler led all scorers with 18 points, scoring 12 in the opening period to get the Imps (1-2 conference, 1-7 overall) off to a good start.
“These players have been working so hard to get a win,” said Gustafson. “We like to run the fastbreak but this year we’ve had trouble stopping people. Tonight we were able to stop Fuquay’s dribble penetration, get some steals and get those easy baskets.”
Cary led 38-37 entering the final quarter, but after a couple early Bengal buckets, the Imps went on a decisive 13-3 run to take control of the game. Dante Robinson scored 7 of his 11 points in the fourth, most coming in transition or off a Bengal turnover.
“We took some quick shots and that allowed them to get ten big fast break points that turned the tide in their favor,” said F-V head coach Randy Barrow. “The big challenge for our team is just learning how to win.”
Bengal junior D.J. Burt (14 points) matched Gensler, knocking down four three-point buckets in a fast-paced opening period which Cary led 21-19. The pace slowed down in the second quarter, with Fuquay leading 29-28 at the break.
The two teams struggled to make shots following intermission, but Gustafson said Dejon Foster came off the bench to give the Imps a big lift and keep things close entering the fourth. Gustafson was also pleased with the overall effort from senior captains Henry Edmisten (eight points) and Nick Ciampa (10).
Ciampa had a key block in the fourth that helped the Imps get into the win column. It all started for Cary though with the young freshman guard, whose early playmaking gave the Imps the confidence they needed to come through.
“Cory is such a terrific player, so fundamentally sound with a tremendous basketball I.Q.,” said Gustafson. “He really shows great court vision, and we can trust him to be a great finisher or to make the right pass.”
Dedric Byrd paced the Bengals (0-6) with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while senior guard Michael Verian added 12 points.