Northern Guilford Tops Orange 57-52 in Playoff Rematch; Holt Scores 20 for Panthers

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Updated: December 6, 2017

“We’re trying to figure out who can do what.”

Orange Coach Greg Motley uttered that phrase three times in four minutes in the postgame of Orange’s 57-52 loss to Northern Guilford on Tuesday night. It was a rematch of the state quarterfinals from last March, when Orange had just lost superstar senior Connor Crabtree because of a broken ankle suffered three days earlier against Triton, derailing the Panthers’ very serious hopes of winning the state championship.

The two teams that faced off at Jim King Gymnasium on Tuesday night were very different from the ones from last season. Orange was playing its second game and, well, they’re trying to figure out who can do what.

Their tallest player, Eli Haithcock, is on crutches after suffering an injury to his right foot. That leaves five other seniors, the only one of which who has starting experience is Mitch Portman.

Still, sophomore Machi Holt nearly took Orange to victory. Trailing 38-31 early in the third quarter, Holt entered the game and sent the Panthers on a 13-2 run, pushing them to a 41-36 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“Mekai changed things a lot,” said Motley. “He’s actually very aggressive. He’s a good ball handler, so he actually gives us a different look. Right now, we’re trying to figure out which guys can do it.”

The Nighthawks’ (3-1) Andy Pack wouldn’t let his team lose, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter. Pack scored the game-winning layup with :53 remaining. Arba Allen hit six of seven free throws down the  stretch.

Orange trailed 57-54 when Pack missed a free throw with :2.3 remaining, but no one boxed out Pack on the subsequent rebound, leading Pack to score on a layup at the buzzer.

“It was a good fight for us,” said Motley. “We didn’t know what to expect because this was only our second game and they lost some players from last year.”

The final play highlighted what’s will likely be a prime concern for the Panthers: trying to find a low post presence until Haithock is set to return. After having the 6-7 Crabtree and 6-6 center Logan Vosburg the past three years, Orange hasn’t had to worry about a low post presence in a long time.

Now, it’s a prime concern.

“All of our guys are kind of lanky,” said Motley. “So no one is really a true post player.”

Joey McMullin, coming off a 37 point game against the North Carolina School of Science and Match, scored eleven points in the first half, but was held without a bucket the rest of the game.

“Right now, we have to get up and down the floor to score,” said Motley. “So we have to push it while we can. We’re trying to execute the way we need to. We’re struggling with that right now.”

”We have to do a better job in getting him open,” said Motley. “He’s a very good shooter.”

Orange (1-1) is scheduled to have two games the rest of the week. They travel to Union Pines tonight, followed by another road trip to Lee County on Friday night, weather permitting.

NORTHERN GUILFORD 57, ORANGE 52

NG-15  10  11   21-57

OR-9     14  18   11-52

Northern Guilford: Dakari Mitchell 2, Holden Lewis 3, Andy Pack 21, Kellen Nodge 4, Chris Herian 8, Lee Maynard 7, Rashawn Pleasant 7, Arbra Allen 5.

Orange: Mitch Portman 13, Morgan Paschall 4, Joey McMullin 11, Jason Franklin 4, Machai Holt 20.

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