Plan D: East's defense averts slow shooting night, tops Skyline
Defense has been the Plano East boys basketball team's calling card all season.
A steady fallback on nights when offense is a bit tougher to come by for the Panthers, the defense rose to the occasion Tuesday to overcome a quick start by Skyline for a 48-38 bi-district victory from Garland Lakeview Centennial.
"We tried to push the pace a lot last night, but couldn't make shots," said Jeff Clarkson, East head coach. "We got some open looks and inside shots, but couldn't make them. Defensively, we did a good job, but could never really pull away from [Skyline]."
The Panthers shifted gears in the second quarter, buckling the Raiders to only four points -- their third-lowest scoring quarter of the season -- while posting 11 points of their own for a 21-15 lead at halftime. Clamping down on the defensive end helped avert a first quarter that saw Skyline take an 11-10 lead by the end of the frame.
After starting the night with a 7-2 advantage, the Panthers were punished by the long ball with Skyline knocking down a trio of 3-pointers to nudge ahead.
Devante Kincaid and Deon Barrett were the primary beneficiaries, scoring 14 points apiece for nearly three-quarters of Skyline's offense.
"We made Kincaid worked for his points," Clarkson said. "He made some tough shots and got to the basket a couple times and then that little guard just made some tough ones. He made everything he put up from three and they earned their buckets."
The Panthers were a bit more balanced in the scoring ledger with five players scoring at least six points. Senior Xavier Smith led the pack with 11 points, followed by senior Marcus Mathieu with eight and seniors Pat Birt and Sawyer Kipp with seven each.
"[Skyline] sat in a zone all game and [Smith] did a good job rebounding, finishing inside and knocking down free throws," Clarkson said. "He's done a really good job the last two games scoring inside for us."
It helped spur a 14-7 advantage for the Panthers in the third for a 35-22 lead and eventual 48-38 victory, East's eighth straight win by double digits.
Extending that streak will be tougher to come by Friday at 7:30 p.m. when the Panthers meet Rowlett in area action from Richardson Berkner. Of East's five losses, the Eagles accounted for the first of them in non-district play with a 60-54 setback on Dec. 1.
"[Rowlett] has two of the best scorers in the area in (Oklahoma State commit Jeffrey Carroll and Nebraska commit Nathan Hawkins)," Clarkson said. "We'll definitely change some things from the first time, but this far down the road we're both going to be much different than we were in that first game.
"It'll be a challenge slowing those guys down, but we're looking forward to it."
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