HPU men seek fourth win in row
Even in the dreary disappointment of an early January defeat, High Point University men basketball coach Scott Cherry saw the potential for brighter times.
The loss came in the final seconds against Campbell in the Panthers’ Big South Conference opener. But, Cherry saw that in the league the Panthers wouldn’t be at a decided disadvantage as they were in December against the likes of powerhouses Syracuse, Georgetown and Arkansas.
“Even thought we lost, I thought we had enough talent to win in the conference,” Cherry said. “I even thought that way after we lost the next game to Radford, when we didn’t play well in the first half but played better in the second.”
Since then, the Panthers have won five of six (the loss coming in overtime to VMI). They are riding a three-game winning streak, a run that has pushed them into a tie for first in the North division of the Big South at 5-3 with Campbell and VMI.
“One thing that has helped us for the last month is that we have been able to concentrate in practice on what we do,” Cherry said. “We haven’t had to change things from game to game trying to stay with bigger and more talented opponents like we were in December. We’ve been able to work on what works for us, kept it simple and shortened up the playing rotation.”
What has worked in most games is John Brown and Adam Weary coming through as the two primary scoring options; torrid 3-point shooting from Weary, Devante Wallace, Lorenzo Cugini and Anthony Lindauer; limiting turnovers, keeping opponents below 10 offensive rebounds, and solid point-guard play from freshman starter Jorge Perez-Laham and backup Haiishen McInytre since Dejaun McGaughy broke a bone his hand.
The Panthers will attempt to extend the winning streak tonight against possibly their biggest conference challenge to date when they visit Coastal Carolina, which owns the best overall record at 13-9 and is the South Division leader at 6-2. The Chanticleers will be the third South Division contender the Panthers have faced. HPU defeated UNC Asheville on Jan. 25 and Winthrop last Saturday on Weary’s shot with 10 seconds to play.
The Chants, coached by former Clemson head coach Cliff Ellis, is on a run of its own, having won four in a row. They feature three double-figure scoring guards — freshman Elijah Wilson (15.8 points per game), Josh Cameron (14.4) and Warren Gillis (13.4).
It’s another tough test for us,” Cherry said. “They don’t depend on one person for their scoring. We have to keep them from driving and getting the ball in the paint because they have good size also. They have the best record in the conference. But, we have been playing well. It’s a good time to play this game and see if we can get another road win.”