Hicks’ 33, Warriors’ defense silence Panthers
You know you had a bad night when the guy who scored 33 points against you said he had a better night defensively.
Isaiah Hicks, the 6-10, 210-pound power forward for Oxford Webb, scored nearly half of the Warriors points Monday night to put away the host Orange Panthers 75-53 in the Carolina 6 3-A conference game.
Hicks, who has signed to play at UNC Chapel Hill, had a simple, two-word answer when asked what the best part of his game was. It wasn’t the three dunks he effortlessly jammed into the basket, his uncanny jump shot accuracy or his dominance under the glass when he scored off his own rebounds, missing on the left side and then putting it in from the right as if it were a tip drill.
“My defense,” he said. “I can block shots.”
Andrew Toney and Matt Gattis can vouch for that. They were among the Panthers whose shots were rejected with authority by the big man, whose wing span seemed to cover the entire baseline.
And Hicks was able to play with intensity the entire game.
“They were talking junk, and that just got to me and I had to prove them wrong,” Hicks said of the Panthers.
At 2:01 in the second quarter, Hicks drilled a set shot and was fouled. Although he was 7-of-10 from the line, this free throw ended up being an air ball as the Orange crowd hooted.
And those slam dunks?
“It gives us momentum,” he said with a quick grin, getting the last laugh.
“He’s tough,” Orange coach Greg Motley said. “We talked to our kids all week about you’ve got to keep contact with him and not just let him roam around and jump around. You notice he’s athletic and tall. We were trying to be physical with him, and I thought we did a decent job of that.”
Webb coach Leo Brunelli said his defense played especially well in the first quarter but had periodic lapses later in the game, not boxing out on some assignments and not closing out on their opponents’ multiple 3-point shots.
“When they made their runs, we had that bad combination, and they went on those 6-0, 8-0 runs, and those are things you’ve got to correct if you want to be a championship caliber team,” Brunelli said. “These kids know what our mission is right now.”
But the Warriors capitalized on their speed and fast breaks, keeping the pace ratcheted up from start to finish.
“We didn’t want to play that fast,” Motley said. “We had to do a better job of slowing the tempo down.”
While Webb was pouring in the baskets off that rapid pace, Orange struggled.
“It’s tough playing from behind with a team like that because they’re going to keep running,” Motley said. “It’s hard to get stops. We made a little run, got it down to 12, but as soon as we did, they kind of made a run and got it right back up to 18. We can’t score that many points. That’s just not who we are this year.”
And that worked to the Warriors’ advantage early and all night long. In the first quarter, with the score 11-6 at the 4:54 mark, Webb went on a 17-4 run to lead 28-10 at the end of the period. From there on, the only thing that remained to be decided was how many points Hicks would score. He had 17 in that period alone.
Webb 75, Orange 53
OXFORD WEBB — Isaiah Hicks 33, Devonte Williams 12, Mitron Terry 11, Stefan Cates 10, Tyrek Beverly 5, Bryan Smith 2, Tyler Thomas 2.
ORANGE — Keegan Crabtree 13, Jawan Chamber 12, Seth Mathis 9, Sean Motley 8, Eryk Dean 3, Matt Gattis 3, Andrew Toney 3, Jeff Campbell 1, Jalen Pittman 1.
Records—Oxford Webb 15-3, 4-0; Orange 6-10, 1-3.