The Panthers had only one win on the season and were being routinely blown out in their games.
Woods Cross hung onto a win, 54-45, but it wasn’t easy to put the scrappy Panthers away.
The Wildcats came out swinging and went up 16-4 at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, the lead was still a comfortable 27-19.
Near the end of the third quarter, West was seemingly on the ropes and about to tap out. The Wildcats had extended the lead to 44-26 and the Panthers looked as though they were ready to mail it in.
It wasn’t to be as the Panthers dug deep and found the guts to come back. When forward Gordon Vetas made two free throws with three minutes left, the Panthers found themselves down only three points, at 48-45. They also had all of the momentum.
For whatever reason, the Wildcats suddenly couldn’t find the hoop. With the lead dwindling, the young Wildcats hung on and made the plays down the stretch to get the win.
“Kind of an odd game for us,” said Woods Cross coach Todd Street. “We never really got into a flow but we made the plays when we needed to.”
The Wildcats scored three buckets the rest of the way. On defense, they tightened up and didn’t allow West to get any good looks at the basket. With the Panther’s still in striking distance, a West player attacked the basket.
Wildcat center Filipo Mokofisi rotated over and swatted his lay up into the stands. The block re-energized a restless crowd and the Wildcats cruised the rest of the way.
Sharp-shooting Brady Cowley led the way with 16 points. He made four shots from beyond the arch and helped the Wildcats get off to their fast start. Sean Barton added 11 and Luke Hansen chipped in with nine.
“I was very happy with the way we defended,” said Street. “We just needed to finish more plays, but we got the win.”
The Wildcats have one more tune up before region play starts. On Friday, they will host the Hillcrest Huskies at home.
Hillcrest has been up and down this season, with a 5-5 record. But they have beaten East and Highland, so they are very dangerous.
After that, region play begins and the games start to really count. Tip off for Friday night’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m.