The Class 3A No. 7-state ranked Princeton Panthers lived up to their lofty billing, taking a 77-37 win over Sulphur Springs Tuesday at the SSMS gym.
The visitors had five players in double figures led by N'Keal Bailey's 19 points. Marquis Thomas scored 13, Fayola Oyatoyo and David McKenzie added 12 each and Jakari Dillard pumped in 11.
Isaiah Lacy had 9 points coming from three 3-pointers to pace the Wildcats.
Sulphur Springs (4-13) had 26 turnovers in the game. Many of the mistakes turned into easy buckets by 9-3 Princeton.
“We came out really well, and followed our game plan. We came out with intensity and executed in the first quarter,” said Jeremy Josey, Sulphur Springs head boys basketball coach. “Their overall size and length gave us problems. We could not get clean looks, nor could we seem to find the open cutters. We allowed ourselves to become frustrated and did not handle adversity very well.”
Josey continued, “Princeton did a great job of taking their intensity to another level, and we simply did not match it. We are still a work in process as we continue to encourage our players to not always expect bad things to happen, that we make our own luck with effort and hustle.”
The Wildcats had a good first quarter, hanging with the Panthers in the early going.
Sulphur Springs got a putback in the lane when Larry Pryor snagged an offensive rebound and put the ball in the hole. Lacy hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key and with 6:10 left in the opening frame, the Wildcats had a 5-0 lead. Thomas scored from Princeton on a drive down the lane to cut the advantage to 5-2 with two minutes gone off the first quarter clock. Then Lacy continued his hot shooting streak canning back-to-back treys from long distance. The Wildcats were up 11-2 when Lacy passed to Darian Dial for a bucket from point blank range. Dial was fouled, but failed to hit the following free throw. With 3:49 left in the first frame, the Panthers were being shocked, trailing the Wildcats 13-3.
Princeton found their game and got a layup from Bailey and free throws by Honea and Oyatoya as they ended the first quarter with a 7-0 run. The first period ended with the Panthers trailing 13-10, but building momentum.
The second period saw Princeton kick their offense into gear as they outscored the Wildcats 21-5. The game was briefly tied at 17-all then Princeton got a layup and a 3-pointer by McKinzie as they went on a scoring burst. The 12-0 run gave the Princeton squad a 29-17 lead, the scoring spell was momentarily stopped when Reid Burns got two points in the lane for the Wildcats. At the half, the Panthers had a 31-21 lead and were controlling the boards and the lane.
In the second half, Princeton started to pull away, they outscored the Wildcats 27-8 in the third period as they started to put the game on ice. Sulphur Springs continued to use all players suited out, looking for a combination to not only slow down Princeton, but get some offense rolling. The fourth quarter began with Princeton holding a 58-29 lead.
The fourth quarter was more of the same with Princeton scoring on drives and layup from close range for points. Connor Cooper had a 3-pointer and also scored on a put back in the paint. Sulphur Springs trailed 68-34 with three minutes left. Down the stretch, Burns had a 3-pointer for the Wildcats, but it was too little, too late. The state-ranked Panthers won by the 40-point margin of 77-37.
Scoring box, Princeton 77, Sulphur Spring 37
Princeton 10 21 27 19 -77
Sulphur Springs 13 5 8 8 -37
Sulphur Springs - Isaiah Lacy 9, Darian Dial 2, Reid Burns 5, Connor Cooper 7, Larry Pryor 5, Cain Cody 2 and Andra Smith 7.
Princeton - Fayola Oyatoya 12, Marquis Thomas 13, N'Keal Bailey 19, Jonas Honea 6, Jakari Dillard 11, Tre Jackson 2, David McKinzie 12, Ed Mondragon 2.
JV - Princeton 57, Sulphur Springs 48
Sulphur Springs - A. Rosales 2, C.J. Stephens 8, McElroy Givens 7, Landon Brock 9, DeAndre Wright 3, Cade Hudgins 4
Freshmen - Princeton 51, Sulphur Springs 20
Peyton McAllister 3, Keylon Hall 12, Derrick Weeks 5
Next up - Sulphur Springs plays at Paris on Friday, three games are slated to begin at 5 p.m. with the freshmen, junior varsity and varsity scheduled to play.
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