The Hibriten boys played a little basketball D and D Friday night, and it proved to be a fruitful pairing.
Combining a stout defense with a game-high 15 points from Drake Felder, the Panthers pulled away in the second half of a 63-40 nonconference win over West Wilkes in Millers Creek.
Hibriten improved to 7-5. West Wilkes fell to 6-7 and has lost three of its last four.
The Blackhawks led 11-6 six minutes into the game on Josh Phipps’ basket off a Jacob Wood assist. But the Panthers used a 23-3 run in the final 9:45 of the first half to take a 29-14 lead at halftime.
A young team that has six sophomores and a freshman in its playing rotation, Hibriten got a 3-pointer from that freshman, Bishop Walton, on an inbounds play to take the lead at 13-12.
From there, the Panthers hit 8 of 14 shots, and the Blackhawks got only a basket from Phipps, who led West with 14 points, and a free throw from Wood.
Hibriten used some sort of full-court pressure for most of the game, and switched to a zone in the second quarter. After scoring nine of their first 11 points inside, the Blackhawks missed all of their 10 second-quarter shots and were held scoreless.
“That was our thought, to see if we could make them shoot from the outside and not let them run their offense so much,” Roger Burgess, the Hibriten coach, said of the zone. “And then we ran a few traps with them.
“The pressure was big,” Burgess added. “It was as big as the zone, if not bigger. One thing about pressure—when you play against it, it will start to wear on you.”
Chris Skabo, the West Wilkes coach, said, “They started pressing us and we forced it. We didn’t take our time against the press, and they made us pay for it. We went through a long streak there in the first quarter where we didn’t score, and then it continued in the second quarter.”
The Blackhawks found the range again in the third quarter. After extending the scoreless streak for the first 2:30 of the period, West used an 18-6 run to pull within 39-32. Phipps had six points in the run, and Sam Allen and Alex Greer each had five. Greer scored on three straight possessions, and his driving basket made it a seven-point game at the 1:57 mark.
West couldn’t sustain the run, however, going scoreless for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. The Panthers scored the first 14 points of the quarter to put the game away.
“We came out great in the third quarter, cut it to seven and had the ball,” Skabo said. “With about a minute-and-a-half left, we let seven points slip back up the other way.”
Felder, a sophomore who scored 10 points in the third quarter, had a double-double with 10 rebounds. Kel Berry added 12 points for Hibriten and senior guard Manza Hunt nine.
Notes: Greer, a freshman, has been suffering from the flu and played limited minutes…. West Wilkes returns to Mountain Valley Conference play this week, hosting East Wilkes Tuesday and Ashe County Friday.