MAYPEARL — What a way to rebound from a district-opening stumble.
The Maypearl High School Panthers not only won back-to-back boys' basketball games on short rest, knocking off Keene High School 58-39 Saturday at MHS Gymnasium, they also held an opponent to its lowest total in a month.
"We knew it was a big game and that Keene was a big district rival, so we showed up," said Junior forward Jake Wiggins, who nearly posted a double-double during the win. "We had the mindset that we had to block out, rebound and win. If we play the rest of district the way we played Keene, there's no telling how far we can go."
Wiggins, who scored 11 points, pulled down three rebounds and blocked four shots, was only one Panther that earned double-digit honors. Senior Tanir Horton (18 pts) and Brandon Wright (16 pts) also went on a scoring rampage — specifically during the third and fourth quarter.
The trio helped Maypearl outscore the Chargers 29-19 in the final 16 minutes on 10-for-10 shooting from the field and 2-for-2 shooting from the 3-point line. They also accounted for 12 of the team's 13 rebounds in the second half.
Massey (9 pts) and Gunner Petty (5 pts) rounded out the scoring for Maypearl and finished with respective 3-for-3 and 2-for-7 field goal percentages.
Riepe, the MHS head boy's basketball coach, said it wasn't only his offensive continuity that was clicking on all cylinders. He also credited his defense for its monumental turnaround in the second half.
"It was pretty simple. I told them if they don't want to win the game, don't play defense and if they want to win, play defense," he said. "They bought into the challenge and held them to five points in the final quarter, which is a positive. They went on a big run during the third and fourth quarter against both Rice and Grandview (High Schools) to push those teams to the brink and the last few seconds of the game. It's a testament the kids are buying into the idea of defense."
Despite allowing more points (15) and the Chargers best incremental field goal shooting percentage of the game (64 percent) in the second quarter, the Panther defense rebounded after forcing four turnovers and scoring eight points off Keene's mistakes.
The Panthers had more defensive rebounds (25) than Keene had in total boards (24). Thirteen of their 32 rebounds came in the third and fourth quarters.
So did three of Wiggins' four blocks.
Wright, who scored his 10th double-digit game of the season, said their handling of the Chargers on their home court bodes well going into the week's district matchups with Rio Vista and Blooming Grove High Schools.
“When we’re clicking, we can’t be stopped. When we’re on a run we have the ability to score in bunches,” he said. “Those first two games teams got us at our worst. Now we’re clicking again and picking up our level of play. We still have to fine-tune some things, but we’re capable of ending the season as the No. 1 team in the district.”
The Panthers were scheduled to play Rio Vista (2-9, 0-3) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at MHS Gymnasium. The Eagles had lost their last three games to Grandview and Palmer High Schools, the district’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams.