Plano Makhi Dorsey

Plano junior Makhi Dorsey scored 11 points, including seven to swing the third quarter and help the Wildcats to a 47-45 road win over Plano East on Friday.

The Plano boys basketball team is settling some scores during the second half of its District 6-6A schedule.

The Wildcats, not long removed from an 0-3 start to district, suddenly have the second-longest active winning streak in the conference at three, trailing only first-place Coppell. All the more pivotal, all three of Plano’s wins have come against teams it lost to during the first half of its league schedule.

The Wildcats continued their rise up the 6-6A standings on Friday, avenging a prior loss to Plano East by hanging on for a 47-45 victory on the Panthers’ home floor. The win squares Plano with the Panthers at 5-5 and part of a three-way tie alongside Lewisville for third place in the district.

“I couldn’t be happier for them. We’ve come a long way,” said Dean Christian, Plano head coach. “I can’t say it enough: When kids play for the right reasons — for each other, the team, the program, the school and the community — it changes the way you play. Your effort and willingness to sacrifice change, and we’re getting that right now.”

It was a stark change of fortunes from the first meeting between the Panthers and Wildcats on Jan. 5, a 70-43 blowout in favor of East behind a resounding second half. On Friday, it was Plano that made its move as the third quarter got underway.

Trailing at the break, 21-18, Plano nearly matched its entire first-half output with 16 points in the third quarter. Junior Makhi Dorsey was at the controls, scoring his team’s first seven points of the frame to knot the count at 25-25 with 5:55 left in the quarter. 

The Wildcats had some success breaking East’s press as well. Senior Trey Varney cut to the basket to finish a layup and then later found senior Jackson Hamilton in the corner for a 3-pointer as part of a 16-6 stretch that staked Plano to a 34-27 lead.

“We held them to 18 in the first half and they got 16 in the third quarter,” said Matt Wester, East head coach. “Dorsey was the main catalyst for that. He made a nice 3 and then got a couple in transition where it wasn’t really a fast-break situation, he just beat our press and got down there. We have a pretty good defensive team and didn’t up much overall, but allowing 16 in a quarter is tough.”

“We’ve been working hard on coming out strong in the second half,” Christian said. “Those first four minutes of the third quarter have been an Achilles’ heel for us, so we’ve been working on that and they’ve responded. They made a difference and that meant everything tonight.”

The Panthers retaliated with back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman Isaiah Brewington and junior Brandon Hardison to trim the gap to 34-33 at the end of the frame.

Junior Xavier Williams gave the Wildcats a six-point cushion early in the fourth with a 3-pointer, as Plano managed to keep the Panthers at bay the rest of the evening.

It didn’t come without some anxious moments down the stretch.

Plano had chances to ice the game late but went just 6-of-12 on free throws in the fourth quarter, including a pair of misses with six seconds left that gave East a chance to shoot for the win or the tie. With no timeouts left, the Panthers raced up the floor only to clank a corner 3-pointer off the side of the backboard.

As time expired, the officials halted play, conferenced and deemed that the ball was tipped by Plano and had 0.5 seconds added back to the clock for a final possession for the Panthers. Despite getting an open look from the deep wing, East’s 3-pointer fell short.

“It was a tough end-of-game scenario, but whenever you’re playing a great team like this, to come on the road and make up for a 27-point spanking at our place, I can’t be any prouder of my kids,” Christian said. “They played their tails off. When young men decide they want to play together and play for the right reasons, good things can happen out there. We started out the season 0-3 in district and are playing some really good ball right now.”

Dorsey paced the Wildcats with 11 points and six steals as one of three double-digit scorers for Plano — Hamilton and Williams added 10 apiece. Christian lauded the play off the bench of junior Robert Hall, whose last game came on Plano’s junior varsity team before being thrust into big minutes on Friday. He chipped in five points, four rebounds and three blocks off the bench.

“That was everything. We’ve been looking for production like that for our bigs — just a few points here and there, plus a block or key rebound, it makes all the difference because we know what we have with our guard play,” Christian said.

Senior Connor Johnson was active on both ends for the Panthers with a game-high 13 points, plus nine rebounds and two blocks. He accounted for six of East’s 12 fourth-quarter points, including a layup with 15 seconds left to make it a two-point game.

“He’s been the heart and soul of our team all season,” Wester said. “He’s a three-year starter who plays really hard. He really wanted this one and was getting all his points right under the basket, which is exactly what we want.”

Junior Muizz Qazi and Hardison added 10 points apiece as the Panthers look to regroup for Tuesday’s 8 p.m. road tilt against state-ranked Coppell. The Wildcats look to stay hot at 7 p.m. that same night at home against Flower Mound.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
0
0
0
0
0

Recommended for you

Load comments