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PRINCETON — North Johnston couldn’t keep up with the fast-paced style of Princeton and the Panthers couldn’t hand the Bulldogs their first varsity boys basketball loss of the season Friday, falling 87-68.
The 1-A Carolina Conference Bulldogs, now 7-0 on the season, lit the scoreboard up with 31 points in the first quarter and the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference Panthers (0-2) couldn’t catch up.
“We’re a little surprised,” Princeton head coach David Cobb said with a laugh. “But they’re definitely capable of this.”
Princeton had four guys in score double figures, with Jaheim Taylor leading the way with 23 points. Nyshein Waller netted 20 points while Colby Sullivan and Tyrese Joyner each added 14. The Bulldogs have been able to outrun every team they’ve met so far, averaging more than 80 points a game.
“We’ve got a lot of scorers, we don’t have a problem scoring,” Bulldogs senior Garrett Klein said. “(We need to improve) shot choice, better court view, stuff like that, but that’ll come along more as we play together and know each other better.”
The big surprise for Princeton is how quickly the team chemistry has come together. The Bulldogs have mostly seniors and no juniors, but they get big contributions from a dynamic sophomore duo in Taylor and Joyner along with freshman Waller. The emergence of the underclassmen has not been met with jealousy by the upperclassmen.
“Honestly, we’ve gelled and this is the best-gelled team I’ve been on throughout my high school career,” senior Sullivan said. “We all fit together. We all play well together, and it’s not a one-man show every night.”
Due to scheduling conflicts, the Panthers had to play the Bulldogs twice in a row, which North Johnston head coach Chris Batten said was a disadvantage for his young team.
“We lost half of our scoring last year with two players. We have three kids that played varsity last year,” Batten said. “I was worried about chemistry and how they meshed, and that’s not been a problem that was a big surprise. We got to get them to play how they practice, and usually it’s the other way around. If we can transition practice habits into the game, we’ll be OK.”
North Johnston was led in scoring by Justin Vann with 19 points. Savon Foye added 15 points and Carsse Lucas had 11 points.
NORTH JOHNSTON (68)
Vann 19, Foye 15, Lucas 11, Rodrigues 11, Hinnant 4, Hicks 3, Pitts 2, Howell 2, York 1, Moore, Wallace
Taylor 23, Waller 20, Sullivan 14, Joyner 14, Wilkins 6, Garris 4, Woodall 2, Farrior 2, Klein 2, Pearce, Phillips, Spellman, Gurganious
Score by quarters:
North Johnston 16 21 7 24 — 68
Princeton 31 24 23 9 — 87