Panthers scratch and claw past Bulldogs

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On Tuesday night, the Granville Central Panthers traveled to Roxboro Community School and beat the Bulldogs, 72-48. This was RCS’ eighth game of the season and last before Thanksgiving break, and Granville Central’s first game of the season.

Terence Harcum, the Panthers’ junior captain, led all scorers with 38 points on the night. Harcum spaced out his scoring over the course of the game, dropping 10 points in the first quarter, 14 in the second, five in the third, and nine in the fourth.

“We wanted to try and get into space and create great space for Terence to get into gaps to pass to someone or score the ball,” said Granville Central head coach Mike McDaniel. “We rely a lot on Terence to create for us. He usually does it every night, like tonight. Terence is our point guard, and I trust him tremendously.”

Harcum said Granville Central’s good early start helped the Panthers control the outcome.

“I think we were definitely a scrappier team in the beginning,” Harcum said. “Second half, I feel like we got too comfortable with the lead. I hit a big shot, and I think it kind of woke everybody up a little bit. We just have to be able to remember to stay solid on defense.”

The Panthers started to break away from the Rockets in the second quarter, taking a 40-24 lead into the locker room at halftime after only being up 16-14 at the end of the first.

“I feel like we settled down when they were pressing,” said Harcum, referring to the defense the Bulldogs employed throughout the first half. “In terms of their defense, we were rushing a little bit. We let them run when they got the chance, but I feel like we got our best buckets when we were creating plays.”

“Terence Harcum’s a beast,” said Coach Justin Bettendorf, referring to Harcum’s 24 points in the first half. “We have a habit of letting guys go to work on us. Coach Stokes made a nice adjustment in the second half, a big reason why we were down by eight with three minutes to go in the third quarter.”

The Bulldogs had plenty of opportunities to score more than 48 points in this game, but 18 missed free throws hurt them.

“It was the same thing on Monday night,” Bettendorf said, referring to the Bishop McGuinness game that could have been won had the Bulldogs made a couple more shots from the charity stripe. “We have to shoot better than 50 percent. Missing the front end of one-and-ones is killing us. A free throw is the second easiest shot, right next to a wide-open layup.”

While it was not all rainbows and butterflies for the Bulldogs, Bettendorf was pleased that his team was able to cut the margin in half during the third quarter. The Bulldogs did not let the Panthers take control.

“This past week was a good test for us, two state playoff-caliber teams back-to-back,” said Bettendorf. “Bishop McGuinness and Granville Central allowed us to see where we were and are. We should have won Monday night. The back-to-back games, however, caught up to us near the end of the fourth quarter.”

Harcum, who scored 38 points on the night, led all scorers, and was the only Panther to score more than 20 points. Nasir Stokes led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while Bryson Pleasant, who scored 10 points, was the only other Bulldog to score in double digits.

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