CARY — It was the first game in more than a week, thanks to snow that just wouldn’t melt, and Cary and host Panther Creek’s boys basketball teams were both a little rusty.
It took two minutes, 17 seconds for Cary to score the first points. It took almost four minutes for N&O No. 4-ranked Panther Creek to answer with a bucket of its own.
But by the end of the game, the Catamounts were back to playing like the co-leader in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference with a 65-58 victory.
What worked: Panther Creek got 10 points off turnovers that seemed to come at the right times as Cary threatened to close the gap.
Panther Creek led 32-27 at halftime but didn’t allow Cary within four after the Imps scored on the first possession of the second half.
Needs improvement: Sometimes the difference in an offensive rebound for one team and a defensive stop for the other is just holding onto the ball a little tighter.
Cary (10-8, 4-5) didn’t give up much size to Panther Creek (16-3, 8-1), but the Imps got beat on the boards by not being able to corral many of the rebounds that were tipped around (and usually tipped to a Panther Creek player).
“I was pleased with our halfcourt defense for the most part instead of completing the possession. Getting the rebound completes the defensive possession,” said Cary coach Allan Gustafson.
Putting up numbers: Juan Munoz is known for setting up his teammates with slick no-look passes, but he’s also the team’s leading scorer. The sophomore had a game-high 26 points, with a few back-breaking 3-pointers sprinkled in.
“Last year I deferred and let everyone get their shots,” Munoz said. “I think (Cary) did a good job packing it inside and defending the inside and making us shoot.”
Gaqwez Hudson (11 points) was also in double figures, as was Elijah Fairfax, who had 10 points and a team-high six rebounds off the bench.
Cary sophomore Cory Gensler had 22 points, while Donte Tatum led the team with seven rebounds. Chris Pulcher-Coard had nine points.
Feeling the impact: In the latest N&O playoff projections, Cary was one of the last seven teams in the field, while Panther Creek was one of the top No. 2 seeds.
The win keeps Panther Creek in the hunt for the SWAC title. It’s currently tied with Apex, but Apex has the head-to-head win.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps