Boys basketball extends winning streak with victory over East

Haley Samsel, Featured Columnist

Extending their winning streak to 3 games and improving their district record to 3-3, the varsity boys basketball team avenged their Jan. 10 home loss to Plano East with an upset win on Tuesday, Jan. 28, the final score reading 55-46. Senior guard and team captain Broderick Perkins led the Wildcats with 18 points, 10 of which came in the second half.

The first half was neck and neck, with the lead changing four times in the first quarter and both teams struggling to get going offensively. Plano found themselves in foul trouble early on, putting East at the free throw line for eight attempts in the first half versus two attempts for the Wildcats. Still, the game remained highly competitive in the second quarter. East went on a 6-2 run to end the half, putting Plano behind by 2 points, 19-21.

“We definitely competed with East the way I expected the team to,” head coach Dean Christian said. “Broderick was on his game from the outset, and his leadership was felt in everything we did tonight.”

The third quarter brought a showdown between the post players of both teams. Senior center Austin Evans and senior forward Alex James worked to establish a strong post presence from the beginning of the third quarter, scoring a combined nine points in the second half and preventing East’s star center from taking over the game. But Plano’s renewed energy on the offensive end could not produce a solid lead in the third quarter, as foul trouble plagued the Wildcats’ attempts to take the lead. Plano kept East’s lead to one point going into the fourth quarter, 32-33.

“Our main goal this season has been to improve our presence on the block,” Evans said. “We aren’t afraid of getting physical. It’s been a learning process, but I feel like we’re finally coming into our own.”

The final quarter was by far Plano’s most efficient of the game. While the Wildcats entered the quarter with seven fouls, they managed to keep fouls and turnovers to a minimum and use their offensive strategy to open up the paint and find open players underneath the basket. Although East threatened to surge back late in the game with an and-one dunk, James answered with an and-one putback play of his own, effectively swinging the momentum of the game back to the Wildcats.

“We’re finally starting to make the big plays we’ve been working toward all season,” Christian said. “I’ve been telling the kids to buy into our strategy, but I think they’re only just now starting to believe in it. My message is, ‘hey, it’s not my team – it’s yours.'”

The combination of Plano’s swift ball movement proved to be too much for East, who failed to prevent Perkins and James from scoring 6 points each in the quarter. With significant contributions from junior guard Jason Bardgett, senior forward Jacques Stephenson, and senior guard Zach Morrow, the Wildcats sealed the game with a 12-2 run to end the quarter, winning 55-46.

“I’m really glad we were able to win tonight’s game especially,” Stephenson said. “We really should have won the last time we played East, and tonight showed that that loss was a fluke. We’re the better team.”

Plano looks to improve their district record to 4-3 on Friday, Jan. 31 at home against Plano West at 7:30 p.m.