Five Bears reached double-digit scoring as Pisgah’s boys basketball team dispatched Tuscola 90-56 in the Haywood County Clash Friday in Waynesville.
“I’m super proud to go over there in that type of environment against Coach (Nathan) Messer and his team and get the win,” Pisgah Head Coach Jonathan Whitson said. “We knew that they would come out super strong and we needed to match their intensity from the get-go, and I thought we did that.”
From the opening tip, the game was fast paced. Pisgah got off to a hot start, knocking down four three-pointers in the first quarter, three from freshman guard Sawyer Belue.
Senior guard Macon Haider and junior wing Caden Robinson added six apiece for the Bears in the opening frame and Pisgah jumped out to a 32-12 advantage after the first eight minutes, a deficit Tuscola was unable to recover from.
“Anytime you’re on the road, you always want to build that intensity first to try to take their crowd out of it,” Whitson said. “They had a great crowd there and they were in it, our crowd was in it, too. So for us to come out that way and not come out flat was very important.”
Tuscola battled in the second quarter thanks in large part to 11 points from junior wing Jett Benson, but Pisgah continued to make the extra pass and force turnovers on defense. The Bears won the second quarter 21-14 to take a 53-26 lead into halftime.
Pisgah’s fast tempo and efficient ball movement helped the Bears increase their lead in the third quarter. Seven Pisgah players tallied points in the third while the starting trio of guards Belue, Haider and freshman Jake Lowery combined for 18 in the period.
“I think a lot of theirs came off of defense and we tell our team to let our defense turn into offense,” Holloway said. “We also did a good job of making the extra pass to the open guy which also helped them out, because we would drive and kick it out and they knocked down some threes. It just goes back to being able to share the ball with each other and not worrying about who gets success.”
Tuscola actually outscored Pisgah 11-7 in the fourth quarter but the Bears’ had built a large enough margin to coast to the 90-56 win.
“It was crazy. We were all happy for one another, our school and our community. We really all are one big family,” Robinson said.
Benson poured in a game-high 22 points for the Mountaineers. Senior wing Jared Penland and sophomore guard Bryant Oancea added 10 apiece for Tuscola while freshman guard Dominick Messer contributed nine.
The Bears were led by Haider with 19, Lowery with 16 and Belue with 14. Robinson added 13 and junior post Payton Hill finished with 12.
“I thought it was a total team effort where everybody bought in and was able to do what we needed them to do to be successful,” Whitson said. “I’m super happy for our guys, we’ll enjoy it this weekend and then we’re back at it Monday.”
After knocking off West Henderson on Tuesday, the win gives Pisgah (7-5, 3-1) a three-game win streak, one it’ll look to extend on Tuesday when East Henderson (9-6, 1-3) makes the trip to Canton for a 8 p.m. tipoff.
“I think we’re pleased right now but not satisfied. Obviously, two big wins on the road in one week is always big and it does build momentum, but we have to take it each game at a time and get ready for the next opponent,” Whitson said.
The loss pushes Tuscola’s losing streak to five. After starting the season 4-3, Tuscola now sits at 4-8 and 0-4 in the Mountain Seven.
The Mountaineers will look to get back in the win column with a trip to Smoky Mountain on Tuesday before returning home to host West Henderson on Friday. Tipoff for the varsity boys is set for 7:30.