By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
There’s a reason why Plano East is the TABC No. 4 ranked team in the state.
They are pretty darn good.
After trailing 18-15 entering the second quarter Friday night, the Panthers outscored the McKinney Lions 67-35 the rest of the way to cruise to an 82-53 win at MHS. The win improved Plano East to 5-0 in District 10-5A while the Lions dropped to 1-4 and fell to a three-way tie for fourth place with Boyd and Plano.
From the beginning, it appeared as though the Panthers would have the size advantage on the glass, as 12 of the team’s 15 points in the first quarter came from inside the paint. However the Lions started off hot from the three-point line, hitting three 3’s in the opening minutes in order to take a three-point first quarter lead.
But like they have the tendency of doing, turnovers began to doom the Lions, as they would commit seven turnovers in the second quarter, leading to several easy baskets for the Panthers. This sparked a 10-0 run by the Panthers to begin the quarter, as Plano East would take the final lead of the game with just under five minutes remaining in the frame.
Down 36-29 at halftime, McKinney opened up the second half with a Raynell Denny jump shot to make it 36-31. After that shot, any hopes of a Lions comeback were erased as Plano East exploded on a 16-0 run that lasted nearly six minutes, creating a 52-31 lead for the Panthers. Senior Red Shannon would score five points for the Lions to end the quarter, but the blue and gold still were down 19 heading into the final eight minutes after scoring just nine points in the frame.
Things just got worse in the final quarter for McKinney. Backups for both teams finished off the last minutes of the game, as the Panthers bench accounted for 11 of the team’s 25 points in the final quarter.
For the Lions, Shannon led all scorers with 26 points including five three-pointers, while Denny finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Pat Birt led the Panthers with 17 points.
After the game, McKinney head coach Wes Watson really stressed the importance of blocking out defenders for rebounds, and said that his guys didn’t get the job done in that department.
“We could execute block-outs better,” said Watson. “We are going to turn on the tape and see a lot of guys where instead of engaging with their guy and keeping their feet active, we are going to see guys turn and look for the ball at the rim. When that happens they are going to just jump right over us and get the ball, and while all of that is correctable we have got to be willing to do it the right way. The execution has to be on point when you play a team like that.”
Watson brought up a parallel of Friday night’s 90-63 loss by No. 1 Duke to Miami.
“It doesn’t matter if you get beat by 29 or one, it still counts as one in the loss column. Duke is pretty good and they got beat in similar fashion a couple nights ago, and they are a pretty good bunch,” said Watson.
In a game that was over by the third quarter, Watson said that when his players and coaching staff sit down to evaluate the film, they will be “kicking themselves” for not cashing in on opportunities they had in the game.
“The crazy thing is when we go back and watch the tape, we are going to see so many opportunities that we had right around the basket that we didn’t cash in on,” said Watson. “We are going to see a lot of times where we don’t flat out block out, and that leads to pretty easy baskets for them down on their end. You can’t do that against those guys, because they are way too good for that.
Hopefully we learned some valuable lessons from that. We should be able to play them a lot more competitively than we did tonight. We did tonight for really about two quarters, but in the third quarter we had a lot of opportunities around the basket that we didn’t finish.”
McKinney will host Plano West (3-2) on Tuesday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
District 10-5A Standings:
1. Plano East 5-0
2. Allen 4-1
3. Plano West 3-2
4. McKinney Boyd 1-4
4. McKinney 1-4
4. Plano 1-4
Other Friday Scores From 10-5A:
Plano West 64
Tuesday’s 10-5A Games:
All game at 7:30 p.m. Bottom team listed is home.