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PRINCETON — It didn’t take long for the Princeton boys basketball team to preserve what continues to be an undefeated 1-A Carolina Conference with a 76-43 victory over Neuse Charter on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs (15-4, 9-0), winners of five in a row, quickly took over early against the Cougars to finish out a sweep of the Smithfield School. Four scorers finished in double figures for Princeton — Zion McPhatter with 16 points, Hunter Bailey with 15 points, Nayshin Waller with 13 points and Tyrese Whitley adding 10.
“We did good,” McPhatter said after leading all scorers in the win. “The last time we played them, we came out slow. We came out ready this game.”
From start to finish, defense was the undercurrent to victory. While the offense contributed to what was a comfortable lead for the final three quarters of play, the defense forced tough looks for Neuse Charter, who had a less-than-stellar night from the field.
“Honestly tonight, we just didn’t have as much offensive movement as we needed to,” said Neuse Charter senior Jacob Denton, who led the Cougars with 16 points. Teammate Sire Holmes with 10 represented the only other double-digit scorer. “We found some tempo every now and then, we were able to get some baskets, but defnitely didn’t get the looks that we wanted to and they kind of sped us up a little bit and we played their game.”
Princeton led by just four points after the first quarter, but went on a 9-0 run at the start of the second to start what would remain a doubl-digit lead for the rest of the game.
That lead grew to 20 points just after halftime and ballooned into the 30s near the end of the game.
While Princeton scored at will, Neuse Charter struggled to get in a rhythm offensively for much of the game, with several scoring droughts. Forty-three points marked the lowest point total for the team all season.
On the opposite path, Princeton is shaping into a playoff contender with the regular season wrapping up next week. The team has found success by combining night after night with every player knowing their role.
“All of us (have been) gelling together,” McPhatter said. “We have two good scorers in Tyrese and Nayshin, so as long as everybody plays their part, we should be good.”
Neuse Charter (43)
Ledbetter 4, Denton 15, Ayers 3, Holmes 10, Tucker 8, McGee 2.
Whitley 10, McPhatter 16, Waller 13, Bartholomew 6, Potts 8, A. Taylor 5, Bailey 15, Woodring 3.
Score by quarters:
Neuse Charter 8 10 12 13 — 43
Princeton 12 22 16 26 — 76