Evans held off a late push from host Dr. Phillips on Tuesday night, securing a 71-60 victory and handing the Panthers a loss in their first home game of the season.
For Dr. Phillips (11-3), it was a nice change to be playing a home game in front of the its home crowd after playing its first 13 games on the road – even if the final outcome wasn’t a win. Renovations to the school's gym and scheduling conflicts had prevented the team from playing a home game until the new year.
“We had a really good crowd – we had, actually, more people here than I thought we would have,” Panthers coach Anthony Long said. “We should have a good crowd because it’s two of the better teams in our classification.”
The Trojans (15-3) led by as many as 20 points in the second half, but allowed Dr. Phillips to make a rally in the game’s waning moments. For coach Chucky Atkins, it was his team’s knack for racking up fouls that he would like to see improved upon going forward.
“We played alright – we still have a lot of room for improvement,” Atkins said. “Maybe I’m expecting too much from my kids but 18 fouls on the night to the opposing team’s six [fouls] will make us lose in a crucial game.
“So we’ve got to play better defense without fouling them.
Evans was led by 16 points from Courtney Williamson, 13 points from Prince Atkins and another 12 points from Kerry Blackshear. The Panthers, meanwhile, were led by Jonathan Laurent’s 17 points, with Ira Warren adding 11 and Chaundee Brown scoring 10 points on the night.
Dr. Phillips will return to action on Friday against Freedom, again at home, before playing in Saturday’s Showdown in O-town at Orlando Christian Prep.
Evans will take on Oak Ridge on Friday night. For a team with state championship aspirations, Atkins is hopeful his team will play with a bit more of an edge as they head down the stretch and into district playoffs.
“I want to see us play hard and assert ourselves,” Atkins said. “We’ve got to play a lot harder if we want to be a champion.”