ABBEVILLE — After a 17-day hiatus between games, the Abbeville boys basketball team came out cold on Friday. Then a Rhasheed Davis steal and fast-break layup, broke the proverbial lid on the basket.
Before Ninety Six could blink, the Panthers went on an 15-0 run, and despite a timeout to try and slow the game down, Abbeville continued to pour it on en route to a blowout victory over its region rival, 88-58.
“We haven’t played in two weeks and we looked a little sluggish,” Abbeville coach Douglas Belcher said. “(We) came out and tried to transition (defense) into offense, that’s the way it’s been working for us. We were sluggish from the beginning, but once we got our legs underneath us, we began to make baskets and run our offense.”
Abbeville allowed just one basket in first quarter, and despite a Ninety Six 3-pointer to begin the second, a 6-0 run by the Panthers increased the deficit to 20 points with more than six minutes left in the half.
The scoring barrage was a credit to the Panthers suffocating full-court press along with its aggressive 2-3 zone. The defensive combo forced Ninety Six into turnover after turnover.
“That’s what we work on,” Belcher said. “The guards like to get out there. I have a lot of guards/defensive backs and we are using it to our advantage.”
The anticipation on defense allowed Davis and Javario Tinch to get out in transition and score easy baskets. The duo combined for 40 points in the win, with Davis leading all scorers with 21 points, while Tinch added 19.
Along with his scoring ability, Tinch showed his tenacity on the glass, tallying seven rebounds against the Wildcats.
“(Tinch) is one of the guys last year that we had to keep on the floor,” Belcher said. “He’s a player. He can shoot the jump shot, he can go inside and as you can see he can dunk. He’s a great player and a great athlete.”
Despite struggling to get the offense going, Ninety Six found success from behind the arc thanks to Payne Davis, who dialed up four 3s in the loss. Davis and Nate Hill were the only Wildcats to finish with double figures, tallying 12 and 11 points, respectfully.
As for Abbeville, it improves to 6-1 on the season and will look to maintain its undefeated record at home when it hosts Greenville Tech Charter on Jan. 18.
“Right now we need to gel better together,” Belcher said. “Sometimes we get a little selfish, so we just have to fight through that and get these guys to play together. We do that, I think we’ll be all right.”