Feb 5, 2013
Holly Springs arrived at Apex with a 6-7 Tri-Nine conference record. The record was good enough for sixth-place in the conference, putting the Hawks just outside the playoff picture. On Tuesday night, the team hoped to inch closer to the 5th-place spot.
Instead, the Apex Cougars outmatched and outplayed the Hawks, pushing them further out of the postseason race.
T.J. Evans and Malik Williams combined for 42 points and the Cougars sailed to a big 87-69 conference win in a game that was never really in question.
Apex played a fast brand of offense and put up points in a hurry in the first half. They were also benefited by 8 team 3-pointers through the first two periods.
Throughout the night, Apex seemed unable to miss shots from the field, while Holly Springs failed to convert on open looks. The Cougars brought a 43-21 lead into halftime.
The second half was more of the same, and Apex freshman forward Ian Boyd joined in the fun. He was something of a mid-range monster, putting moves on defenders and knocking down jumpshots on the way to 13 points.
"He can do a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor," Apex head coach David Neal said of Boyd. "He's so calm and collected on offense. He's never in a hurry."
It wasn't until Holly Springs put full-court defensive pressure on the Cougars that they were able to force some turnovers and score points easily. By then, it was too late. The Hawks went on multiple fourth-quarter runs but were still unable to narrow the gap to less than 18 points.
Even more impressive for the Apex Cougars? Starting guard T.J. Wells, normally a top scoring option for the flashy offense, sat out of the game with a groin injury.
According to Neal, Wells' groin injury is minor. He was a game-time decision for tonight's game, and the coach hopes to see him back on the court for the Cougars next week.
In place of Wells', several Apex players stepped up and provided solid performances. Jon Jones got the start down low in a large lineup that also included Boyd and Williams. The three players together dominated the rebounding category all night and came up with big blocks on defense.
Also getting bigger minutes for the shorthanded Cougars were Chris Cotton, Brian Butler, and Reyho Tshiama. The three bench players combined for 10 points.
"I was proud of the bench tonight," Neal said. "I need to focus on playing the bench more and developing our depth."
Apex's T.J. Evans led the game with 22 points, followed by Malik Williams with 20. Deojunique Flippin and Anthanee Doyle had 17 points apiece for the Hawks in the loss.
With just 3 wins to go, Holly Springs needs to start winning to jump ahead of Panther Creek and snag the last Tri-Nine playoff berth. The Hawks take the court Friday against Fuquay Varina.
The Cougars will also play their next game against Fuquay. After taking Friday off, they will take the court on Tuesday the 12th.
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