Sports > Schools
Boys basketball: Finishing touch: Panthers power past Jaguars in second half
FLOWER MOUND - Flower Mound boys basketball head coach Jason Fossett knew well in advance how problematic Plano East's size could be Friday night.
But in the end, no manner of defensive schematics was able to slow the Panthers, who exploded in the second half for a 72-57 victory over the Jaguars.
The Panthers shifted gears following Flower Mound's most productive spurt of the second half - a pair of consecutive 3-pointers by senior Sam Montgomery that closed the gap to 39-30 with 1:21 left in the third. East responded with a 7-3 run to close the quarter - capped with a buzzer-beating tip-in by senior Xavier Smith - and brush away the Jaguars with a 26-13 run through the first seven minutes of the fourth for a 72-49 lead.
"[Flower Mound] was really pushing it down the floor and we weren't playing fast enough on defense," said Jeff Clarkson, East head coach. "I told them we had to run back; just run back and find your man. They still made a few, but a couple were tough shots."
The Panthers padded their advantage thanks to four and-1s in the fourth, including two by senior Patrick Birt who scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half.
"[Birt's] playing really under control," Clarkson said. "He's so strong and if he gets inside, he tends to finish so being left-handed is a bit of an advantage because defenders tend to forget that."
The Jaguars' lone recourse, as was the case much of the night, came behind the trigger of sophomore Jake Feickert, who erupted for 30 points - including five 3-pointers and 20 points in the second half.
"[Feickert is] a sophomore; a great kid who works hard and gives you everything you could want," Fossett said. "A couple of our other guys who normally score for us struggled tonight, but better now than in a district ballgame."
No other Jaguar tabbed double figures, with senior Ryan Reibly adding eight points and Montgomery dropping six.
The balance was more even among the Panthers, with Birt complemented by 13 points apiece from seniors Marcus Mathieu and Xavier Smith plus eight from senior Jarvis Pugh and junior Zach Smith.
That wasn't just the case scoring-wise, as six Panthers grabbed at least three boards on a night that saw Flower Mound outrebounded, 30-19. Boxing out proved dicey for the Jaguars, who went wire-to-wire in a zone defense.
"We mix it up, but East was just so much bigger than we were," Fossett said. "Size-wise, there was a huge discrepancy and we just got killed on the glass tonight. That's just a very good basketball team."
That edge kept East in front all game, including a 7-0 run to commence the contest following a corner 3-ball by junior Matt Billings.
The Jaguars responded with a 7-3 run to equate their closest deficit of the night, but an and-1 by Birt gave East a 12-7 lead after one frame.
"We've been hitting them with the pad a lot, so it was great to see that put into practice," Clarkson said. "Finishing inside has been an issue for us and we still missed a couple easy ones tonight, but it's something we'll keep working on."
The lead expanded to 27-12 by halftime after East held Flower Mound without a field goal in the second half, the third time in the past six quarters that feat has been achieved.
Following the 72-57 win, the Panthers are off until 7:30 p.m. Friday when they travel to face Marcus. The Jaguars are on the road at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Arlington Grace Prep.
For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow @MWelchSCN on Twitter.