Pisgah boys basketball’s future is up in the air after falling to Hendersonville for the second time this season, but head coach Jonathan Whitson said his team is committed to finishing strong — and maybe even still making the playoffs.
The Bears kicked off last week with a hard-fought road win at East Henderson, a team they’d beaten 71-45 earlier this year. The latest go-round saw Pisgah come away with a 57-46 victory, and the team was almost down double-digits going into halftime.
“We knew going in that they would come out strong, and they did. They hit some shots in the second quarter that really helped them,” Whitson said. “We talked about that, and in the second half, we knew it’d be tough. It’s always tough to beat someone twice in a season.”
Last Friday’s game against Hendersonville was a bit tougher. The quick and scrappy Bearcats were pesky enough with their different defensive schemes — ranging from full-court man-to-man to full-court zone presses to a half-court trap — that Pisgah just couldn’t quite pass or dribble its way out and committed 11 turnovers in the first quarter. During that first frame, Hendersonville took a 24-11 lead.
“We knew what to expect from them and what type of game it would be,” Whitson said. “Up-tempo and trap here, trap there, trap everywhere. That speed and athleticism that they have is their advantage. We have the advantage with size and strength, but they were more athletic and their quickness posed a problem for us, especially in that first quarter.”
“With that being said, I felt like our kids responded in the second quarter and did what they needed to do,” he added. “We went in at halftime down four and only allowed them to score two points that second quarter.”
Next up for Pisgah is its final two regular season games, both of which will be at home. First up Wednesday is 3-3 Franklin, which Pisgah beat by 15 on the road, then Brevard on Saturday. The Bears beat the Blue Devils by just six last time. Whitson said he isn’t taking either game lightly and noted that he thinks both of those teams have improved since their meetings with Pisgah.
“We just have to be ready to execute and take care of the ball a lot better,” he said.
Of the 16 playoff spots awarded to teams in the western half of the state, 15 go to 2A conference champs, including those top 2A teams in split conferences that may not have as good of records. That means there is only one wildcard spot. Because the loss to Hendersonville knocked The Bears out of conference title contention, they will need to win their remaining games, and even then, they might just need a little luck.
“They’re upset with the loss,” Whitson said. “They’re competitive, and I expect them to come out and play well and play strong, because we do have a group of seniors that are only guaranteed four more games here at Pisgah. That’s going to help them stay motivated and play to win and keep that intensity.”
“I still think there’s an outside chance that we can get into the playoffs,” he added. “Obviously we don’t control that now to a certain extent, but I see if we win out, I think we have a good chance. We just want to take one game at a time and we’ll remember this that no matter what happens, our goal now is to go 4-0 and see what happens at the end of this year.”