Jan 17, 2014
On Jan. 10, the Apex Cougars found themselves on the wrong end of a nationally-televised highlight when Panther Creek forward Nubian Spann shattered his own backboard on a dunk in the second quarter.
Six days later, after the game was rescheduled to repair the court, Apex had its revenge.
Senior guard T.J. Evans scored 35 points in the game, including six three-pointers, and the Cougars rallied to defeat the Catamounts 74-61 on the road Thursday night. The win put Apex in sole possession of first place in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
"We got a week to think about the glass getting shattered, it being on SportsCenter, and based on our performance tonight, I think it really motivated our guys," said Apex head coach David Neal. "I thought we were just as focused and together as we were all year and I just thought it was a great, great team effort."
Thursday night's portion of the game picked up at the exact moment Spann's dunk previously ended game action: With the Catamounts ahead 20-14 and 6:54 on the clock in the second quarter.
Behind two deep shots from Evans and post scores from sophomore Ian Boyd, the Cougars put up 12 points in the second-quarter stretch and entered halftime tied with Panther Creek, 26-26.
"It's not every night I can shoot like that, but when I do, it's a nice feeling," Evans said.
The long-range attack maintained for the Cougars in the second half and the team ran out to 14-point lead midway through the third period. Panther Creek then responded with five three-pointers of its own to cut the deficit to five points in the fourth quarter, but accurate and consistent Apex shooting helped the team separate and win.
"We felt we were really ready to go over here last Friday night, and you wonder if there was kind of a cloud around our guys with all the attention and everything that happened," said Panther Creek head coach L.J. Hepp.
In addition to Evans' season-high 35-point performance, Boyd scored 15 points for the Cougars, junior Davis Dupree scored ten and T.J. Wells added eight.
Catamount point guard Juan Munoz--who threw the alley-oop pass to Spann that broke the Panther Creek backboard in the first part of the game--injured his ankle diving for the ball near the end of the third period. He returned later in the game but was noticeably in pain. Still, he finished with a team-high 26 points, including 17 second-half points.
"He's a special kid and a special player, and hopefully he'll be fine," said Hepp. "He certainly wanted to get back out there and compete, and with the trainer's blessing, I'm not going to hold him out."
Malachi Paige scored 15 points and Spann finished with eight for Panther Creek. Gaqwez Hudson and Josh Maciejewski scored six points apiece.
"[Panther Creek] clearly had the momentum when the dunk happened," Neal said. "That was kind of my only hope leaving here last week--maybe that busted up their momentum a little bit."
Apex (8-6, 5-0) is the last remaining undefeated team in the SWAC 4-A Conference. The Cougars have no time to rest as they will host Green Hope on Friday night.
Panther Creek (13-2, 4-1) will host Holly Springs on Friday night.
Follow Zach Mayo on Twitter at @ZachMayoHSOT
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