MAYPEARL — When the Maypearl offense is clicking, it's clicking — especially when it uses arguably its best shooting performance of the season.
The Panthers scorched the net and torched Rio Vista High School to the tune of a 74-34 victory Tuesday night at MHS Gymnasium, using Tanir Horton's district-high to power them to second place in District 17-3A.
"Offensively, we ran the offense much better than our first game. The boys know how to get into the offense several different ways and it keeps the opponent's defense guessing," said Sam Riepe, the head boys' basketball coach at Maypearl High School, remarking on his team's 75-20 season-opening win against Itasca High School on Nov. 11.
It was the last time Maypearl (13-6, 3-1) beat an opponent by more than 30 points. He noted his defense — which forced more than 15 turnovers during the Itasca victory, too — was the real star of the show.
"Defensively, we have installed a full court press and that is really our best offense some days," Riepe continued. "When the boys play great defense, it makes scoring points on the offensive side very easy. It's the key to our offense. If we play great defense and get tips and deflections, we can pitch the ball up the court and be in a 3-on-2 situation and score easy buckets. For the most part, the boys have bought into that philosophy of play good defense, and in turn, we get easy buckets on the other end."
And buy into it they did.
The Panthers turned 18 Eagle turnovers into 22 fast break points and held the team to its lowest-scoring game of the 2016-17 season. They also outscored Rio Vista in each of the four quarters — including allowing only eight points each in the second, third and fourth.
Though senior Tanir Horton (24 pts, 9 rebs, 5 stls) and juniors Tyriq Massey (10 pts) and Gunner Petty (10 pts, 6 rebs, 3 stls) were major benefactors of the speed of Maypearl's breakneck offensive and defensive sets, they weren't the only ones to affect the game positively.
Brandon Wright scored six points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field and sophomore Carson McManus added five on a perfect 2-for-2 shooting performance and pulled down three rebounds. As a team, Maypearl finished and eye-opening 33-for-75 (44 percent) on 2-point field goals and hit six of its 13 free throws.
Riepe said his team has been rolling since the beginning of the three-game win streak — both on the court and in the locker room.
"The mood in the locker room has been very positive since the home loss to Rice. That game kind of humbled us and made us go back to work to get better," he said. "We know that there's a streak going but we're living in the present. We aren't looking at the rest of the season — only at our next opponent. There are issues when team's begin looking too far into the future and we're not going to be the one that make that mistake.
"Every win gets us closer to getting us into the playoffs, but all we can do is prepare to play a Grandview team that is athletic and undefeated. This game will be big for us, outside of the fact it's big rivalry game. The gym will be packed on both sides and it will be loud."
Maypearl will face Grandview High School, owners of first place in the district, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at GHS Gymnasium. The Zebras, which hold a 56-26 all-time advantage against the Panthers, are 10-5 overall and 4-0 in district and won their last seven games by an average margin of 12 points.
Their largest victory — against Rio Vista — was 41 points and their slimmest win — against Keene High School — was a single point.
"This game will be big and if we can go into a hostile environment and pick up a win, it will set us up for a possible deep run in the playoffs," Riepe said. "It will be a playoff atmosphere this Friday for sure. The rivalry does ups the anty and both schools know how important this game will be for either school. A win ties us with Grandview for second in district and a loss for them puts them tied for first with Rice. It's like I’ve said all year, if our defense is playing good, it will ultimately decide a win or loss for us. If you go back and look at our losses, we played bad defense in five and no defense in a couple.
"Since our loss to Rice, the boys have bought into the defensive philosophy, and our opponents are averaging 38 points per game in the last three. If we can continue that trend for the rest of the season, I believe we'll win more than a few ball games — including the game against Grandview."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at for story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.