For nearly 20 years, Greg Motley has had to focus on coaching one team at Orange.

This year will be unique because he’ll be coaching two teams. The one he has now, and the one who he’ll have at the beginning of 2017. If not sooner.

The Orange team that took the floor on Tuesday night in the season tipoff against Leesville Road had ten players. Of those, eight played. Three of those were freshman who would be playing on the junior varsity under normal circumstances.

These aren’t normal circumstances. Orange is without Ryan Sellers, Devondrez Moore, Jackson Schmid, and possibly two other players who are still playing football. If Orange makes a deep run in the playoffs, those players may not see the hardwood until after Christmas.

Motley has known this for over a month and prepared accordingly for Tuesday night. To paraphrase the infamous words of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the height of the Iraq war, Motley went into the game with the army he had, not the army he might have wanted.

Orange almost won anyway.

Leading 59-58 with 3:58 remaining, the Panthers, which played with a six-man rotation, ¬†got tired down the stretch trying to defend Leesville Road’s three-guard lineup. The Pride finished the game on a 18-8 run to defeat Orange 76-66.

Leesville Road advanced to Saturday’s championship game against Riverside. Orange will face Roseville Saturday at 12:30.

As expected, Orange was led by its two leading scorers from last season. Connor Crabtree, who signed with UNC-Asheville last week, had 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field. Center Logan Vosburg finished with 14 points and eleven rebounds. In his first varsity game, Mitch Portman had 13 points while freshman Joey McMullin had ten.

The Pride was led by Jalen Benjamin’s 25 points while D.J. Horne added 19.

Orange led 27-21 with 4:21 remaining in the first half behind Crabtree’s 12 first half points. But Leesville Road finished the half on a 11-1 run to take a 31-28 lead.

The lack of depth along Orange’s first line led to the Pride getting 19 offensive rebounds, leading to 68 field goal attempts compared to Orange’s 41. The Panthers had one offensive rebound. Vosburg had little help on the boards. He grabbed eleven rebounds, while the rest of the team had eleven combined.

The Pride’s pressure defense forced 23 Orange turnovers while LRHS committed only seven.

After Saturday, the Panthers play its first home game on Tuesday, November 29th against East Chapel Hill. It will be a varsity doubleheader, starting with the girls game at 5:30.

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