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Whitley vaults Princeton to victory

Bulldogs blitz Panthers 78-52

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PRINCETON — Despite sloppy play throughout the game, the Princeton varsity boys basketball team had no trouble putting away North Johnston on Friday night, 78-52.

“That was probably the worst game we’ve played this year,” Princeton head coach David Cobb said. “I was not happy with the execution, way too many turnovers, getting pushed around. Of course, they’re a big physical team, but they were just taking the ball from us.”

The Bulldogs — led in scoring by Tyrese Whitley with 25 points — took control in a big 28-point second quarter that vaulted the team into a big lead. After just a 13-10 advantage in the opening quarter, Princeton erupted at the hands of Whitley and teammate Jaheim Taylor, who finished with 16 points at halftime.

“I wasn’t really happy, especially that first quarter was atrocious,” Cobb said.

In the second quarter, though, Princeton found an advantage in transition and earned many of its points by exploiting weaknesses in the Panthers’ defense.

“We didn’t do a good job rotating back as much as we needed to and we let them push it down our throat,” North Johnston head coach Chris Batten said. “They got some transition baskets that were the difference between a close game at halftime and getting a comfortable lead.”

The home team entered halftime up 16 points. From that point on, the game had already been won. But after Taylor had a big first half, Whitley took over in the second — scoring 15 points to lead all scorers.

“I told Ty in that first quarter I wanted to bury him at the end of the bench, but in that second half he was a man among boys out there and did some oustanding work,” Cobb said.

After a nice night, Whitley, though, gave much of the credit to his teammates.

“I wouldn’t be able to do anything on that court without my team,” he said. “They pump me up and I just took control. Shout out to them because they motivated me, and we work as a team.”

North Johnston could not keep up with the scoring power of Whitley and company.

On an otherwise forgettable night, seniors Justin Vann and Rakuan Rodrigues shouldered much of the scoring in defeat, scoring 13 points each. Though one team advanced with a dominant win and the other was blown out, both exited the rivalry matchup with much the same attitude: it was time to get back into the gym and work out the kinks in the early season.

On Friday, the teams will run it back in Kenly with another early-season rivalry matchup. When the schools do, both expect to be much-improved.

“I feel like we played a little sloppy, but Monday we’ll work on it in practice and we’ll come out stronger the next game,” Whitley said.

North Johnston (52)

Pitts 6, Vann 13, Howell 2, Rodrigues 13, Hicks 3, Wallace 7, Parrish 2, S. Coats 3, York 2, Lucas 1.

Princeton (78)

Whitley 25, McPhatter 2, McCain 5, Waller 13, Jaheim Taylor 18, Potts 2, Aden Taylor 5, Woodring 5, Keokanya 2, Contreras 1. 

Score by quarters:

NJ 10 15 13 14 — 78

PHS  13 28 19 18— 52