Pats Drop Swett, Eye Scotland
Pinecrest coach Mike Apple's postgame meeting with his basketball team at Purnell Swett lasted just long enough to tell the players, "That was a heck of a performance."
The Patriot boys pushed the pedal to the metal against the Rams on Friday night and never let up. They rushed out to a 26-12 lead at the end of one quarter and went on to win 74-36.
The sixth-ranked 4A team in the state (NCPreps.com poll) takes a 19-2 overall record and a 7-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference into Monday's 7:30 p.m. showdown at home against Scotland County.
The Scots (12-8, 6-1) remained a game back of the Patriots in the standings after winning a 59-57 squeaker against Hoke County.
James Baldwin may have been the most incendiary of the fired-up Patriots, scoring 13 of his game-high 20 points in the first half to help his team take a 41-21 lead into the intermission. The 6-foot-3 forward scored on a putback to start the third quarter and followed that with a steal and a dunk.
Julian Brewer added two threes and 10 of his 13 points overall as the Patriots continued to pour it on. The eventual 20-0 run also included back-to-back dunks by Harron Carson and Daquain Towns that aroused the fans on both sides of the gym.
A last-second basket by Jordan Jones provided the only Ram points of the third period, which ended with the visitors leading 61-23.
The Patriots' scoring slowed down in the fourth quarter when the reserves took over, but the intensity did not lessen one bit.
Baldwin and Towns, who scored 14 points to go with a dozen rebounds, were motivated by memories of a game that happened on the same court four years ago.
"Daquain and I were on the freshmen team, and they beat us," Baldwin said. "We just had to show them we were the better team. We had a wonderful experience here tonight."
Purnell Swett dropped to 2-16 and 0-8 after the Senior Night loss. There was plenty to like for Apple, who enjoyed that rare commodity for a basketball coach, four full quarters of high-intensity play by his team.
"We were up by a lot, and the game was probably decided by the third quarter," he said. "But that says a lot about the character of these kids and how badly they want to be successful."
Chances are the Patriot coach had a lot more to say to his team during Saturday morning's practice for Monday's important Youth Night game against the Scots. All middle school and youth league players wearing a team jersey or other team identification will receive free admission.
A win would put the Pats a step closer to the program's first regular season conference title since the 1985-86 team coached by Jeff Capel did it. A 20th win would also be a first since at least the 1990s.
Pinecrest defeated the Scots 70-56 in Laurinburg the first time the two teams met on Jan. 12.
"We have three basketball games, and it's a big week," Apple said. "It's nice to control your destiny, and we've got to do that now."
In addition to a nice youth turnout, Apple would like to see the kind of support from the students that has been missing most of this season.
"We really wish the student body would kind of find out about this team," the coach said. "It's funny and it's too bad because those students are missing a heck of a show. I just wish they would come out and watch, because I think they would appreciate it."
Pinecrest 26 15 20 13 - 74
Purnell Swett 10 11 2 13 - 36
Pinecrest - Wallace 2 2-3 7, Carson 1 2-2 4, Towns 6 2-2 14, Brewer 5 0-0 13, Baldwin 9 2-4 18, Threadgill 0 0-0 0, Drakeford 1 1-2 3, Collins 2 0-0 5, Jones 1 0-0 2, Pride 1 0-0 2, McPhaul 1 0-0 2, Russ 1 0-0 2, Peterkin 0 0-0 0. Totals 30 9-13 74. Swett - Bullard 2 0-0 5, J. Locklear 2 0-0 5, Clark 1 0-0 2, Z. Locklear 3 1-2 9, Jordan Jones 5 1-2 11, B. Jones 2 0-0 4, Jarq. Jones 0 0-0 0, Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 2-4 36. Three-point goals: (P) 5 (Brewer 3, Wallace, Collins); (S) 2 (Bullard, J. Locklear).
More like this story