In the first district and home basketball game of the season Jan. 10, the Patriots played with stellar defense and teamwork to beat the Archbishop McCarthy Mavericks 82-71.
The game started out rough for the Patriots, as Maverick standout Justice Taylor stunned everyone with a quick long range 3-point shot to open the game. The Mavericks would score 3 more unanswered points, making the Patriots offense discombobulated and confused. It was clear to all that the Mavericks initially held control of the game.
However, all momentum shifted in favor of the Patriots when junior Nick Backer jumped in the passing lane for a steal and went on to one-hand dunk on the other end of the court. This crowd energizer catalyzed a 13-4 run for the Patriots, as they earned a 2 point lead at the end of the first quarter, bringing the score to 15-12.
Tensions rose high starting in the second quarter, as it was visible to fans how much these teams disliked each other. Senior Drew Lamont finally found his rhythm, making 2 3-pointers to keep the Patriots out in front. Junior point guard Mike McBean also took control second quarter, keeping the ball safe and the game under control; he helped the Patriots extend to a 5 point lead, 38-33, at the end of the first half.
The defensive sets head coach Brent Maffett drew up worked perfectly against the 3-point shooting Mavericks team, and it showed in the third quarter. The talented guards juniors Brandon Spencer, Mike McBean, Xavier Grant and Backer all made quick rotations to shooters, while seniors TJ Slaton and Lamont held down the fort, not allowing many points in the paint. Both Lamont and Backer had blocks that sent the ball to the stands, which energized the Patriots more. The momentum gained in the third quarter based on defense came through, giving the Patriots many fast break opportunities and easy buckets. At the end of the third quarter, the score was 58-45, with the Patriots again extending its lead to double digits.
Even though the Mavericks attempted a comeback, diminishing the lead down to 7 points, the Patriots were dominant in the fourth quarter. McBean put on a show for the crowd, scoring on 6’5 opponents despite being one of the smallest players on the court. As soon as the Mavericks decided to have their shooting guard Daniel Enriquez defend McBean, McBean took advantage of the mismatch and made Enriquez stumble on himself with a few quick flashy dribble moves. This definitely riled the Heritage fans as they loudly cheered for the remainder of the game.
McBean had 20 points and 6 assists, and Lamont had 22 points and 15 rebounds at the end of the game to help the Patriots win 81-72. The Patriots showed their strong teamwork as everyone shared the ball which led to easy points. They also showed their defensive improvement, somewhat neutralizing the usual Maverick scoring leaders such as Taylor with only 12 points and Marquis Jones with only 2 points. The Patriots will use this game as a confidence booster, beating a well-coached team by a convincing margin.
The Patriots will next play the Coconut Creek Cougars Jan. 13 and try to continue their dominance from the Mavericks game.