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Panther Creek cruises to 78-45 over Holly Springs

HOLLY SPRINGS--It didn't take long for Panther Creek to flex its collective muscle against Holly Springs, using a 16-4 run to close the first quarter and a 16-0 run to end the first half. The Catamounts didn't look back either, cruising to a 78-45.

Panther Creek's  Earnest Ross, who has signed to play with the Auburn Tigers next year, had a 9-0 run by himself in the middle of the first quarter's scoring frenzy.

Ross finished with 29 points on the night, including 3-for-3 on his free throws, four 3-pointers and one emphatic, baseline slam over a Golden Hawks defender.

"He was on tonight," PC coach L.J. Hepp said. 

At the half, the score was 41-12 Panther Creek, as Holly Springs was baited into turnover after turnover. Some coming in the half-court, others due to full-court pressure.

Super sub T.J. Fitzmaurice had three first-half steals and Ross added quite a few himself.

"At the top of our keys to the game, every game it's create turnovers," Hepp said. "We've had these guys for three years now and they've bought into that."

Also standing out was the post play of Panther Creek. In order to win a conference or state championship, Hepp knows his team has to have others raise their level of play so teams can't key in on Ross.

Forwards Marques Oliver and Aaron Toney combined for 20 points and were dominant on the boards and defending the paint.

"We need guys to play good for us," Hepp said. "Not many teams have two 6'6 guys who can score."

The Golden Hawks had few bright moments, but sophomore center Quentin Underwood did dunk over Oliver for Holly Springs' first bucket. He finished with eight points,and Terrence Walker had a team-high with nine.

The lowlight of the night on either side was the scary knee injury to Holly Springs' B.J. Gaskins.

Gaskins went up for a contested lay-up in transition and landed awkwardly with one knee behind the other as the ball bounced off the rim. Underwood tried to follow-up the miss and was knocked on top of Haskins' legs, causing injury. 

Haskins stayed on the ground after Panther Creek got the ball, causing the game to be stopped. His blood-curdling scream made the crowd go from whisper to silent. Although he put no weight on his knee as he was helped off the court, coach Thurman Jordan was sure it was not as serious as it all looked.

"It's just a bruise," Jordan said. "He's had some problems with his knee in the past and I think this one just scared him."

List of SWake athletes that signed their LOI

As if getting your name in the paper and getting to play in college wasn't enough, here's the list of LOI signings for the early signing period.

SWake Boys Soccer Round-Up

We couldn't fit anything in the paper last week about the first two rounds of the 4-A Men's Soccer Tournament, so the SWakeSports blog looks as good as any. Here's how our teams fared.

Those no longer playing: 

Panther Creek - the Catamounts came from out of nowhere this year to becoming Tri-Eight champions. It speaks volumes to what type of program coach Todd Schuler is building when his team was disappointed with a second-round exit at the hands of Millbrook this past Saturday. Panther Creek ended the year 16-6-2. 

 Holly Springs - the Golden Hawks saw their year end to Panther Creek in the first round by a score of 5-0. Holly Springs posted a final record of 9-10.

 Athens Drive - the Jaguars had the unenviable task of opening the playoffs at Broughton, the two-time defending state champion. They lost that game 2-1 to end the year 14-8.

Those still in it:

Apex- the Cougars (15-4-2) should be renamed road warriors after going to Clayton and ripping the Comets 4-0 and following that up by going to Durham and handing Jordan High School just its third loss of the year by a score of 1-0. Tonight at 6 p.m. the Cougars will face...

...Green Hope-  this assures us at least one SWake team will be playing on Saturday with a chance to advance to the East Regional Final. Green Hope did the unthinkable, defeating the odds-on favorite to win the state title, Broughton by a 1-0 score in the second round. The Falcons (17-3-2) also annihilated Garner 6-0 in the first round.

 I'll be at this game tonight, writing the story for the N&O. I'll post the final score on the sports page with a brief description of what happened. The full story should be up whenever you wake up the next morning and when it gets posted on the N&O's site as well.

Wakefield has a remarkable finish to top Holly Springs

Wakefield rallies in final minutes to beat Holly Springs

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