by David Gregorich
For the Pharos-Tribune
ROYAL CENTER —
The Pioneer boys basketball team won its third straight game Friday night and improved to 4-2 by defeating Culver Academy 51-40.
“We want to improve and getting better at the small things every game, and I think we did just that tonight,” said Brandon Scruggs.
Scruggs, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, who scored 22 points last weekend in a win over North Miami, had a different approach in this game.
“I knew with the style of defense they play I wasn’t going to get many open looks to shoot, so I focused on controlling the ball and finding my teammates,” he said.
Scruggs finished the game with 5 assists, 4 points and 3 steals in a game he said was “a team victory.”
The Panthers who were coming off two straight wins with a high margin of victory, knew this game would be a little bit different.
“Culver Academies might be one of the best 0-5 teams in the state,” said Panthers coach Pat Skaggs.
The Panthers took the challenge as a game they needed to win after losing two games early in the season that they thought they had a chance to win.
“It was a good game for us, their defense is probably the toughest we have seen this season,” said Skaggs.
The presence of Bradley Fisher, a 6-11 junior for the Eagles, gave the Panthers something to worry about.
“Any time you have to play against somebody 6-11 in high school is going to be a challenge, but I think our guys did a good job tonight not allowing Fisher to defend us and holding him to only nine points,” said Skaggs
The Eagles gave Pioneer everything they could throughout the game, never allowing the Panthers to get a comfortable lead.
“I think we needed this game. It makes you play all-out the entire time you’re on the court and that will benefit us down the road,” said Mitchell Williams, a 6-4 senior.
Williams, who has been hampered by injuries dating back to this past summer, is a big key to the Panthers being successful.
“I don’t think about the injuries when I’m on the court, it’s something I can’t control so I just play and focus on what is best for the team,” said Williams. He finished with 9 points and 4 assists.
Leading the Panthers in scoring was their sharp-shooting sophomore Carter Skaggs, who finished with 24 points, included five momentum changing 3-point baskets that erupted the Pioneer student section.
Matt Dorris also had a big night for the Panthers, finishing with 10 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals. Stephen Whitlock and Clayton Harvey each added 2 to finish out Pioneer scoring.
The Eagles were led by Fisher, Nick Zalduendo and Eljay Murray, who scored 9 points apiece.
The Panthers will host Argos tonight.
“It will be a whole different type of game tomorrow,” said Skaggs. “They have a couple guys that are pretty good on the perimeter and they move up and down the court quickly, so we will have to be ready for that.”