By Greg Gulas
Deontay Scott’s double-double led four East High scorers in double figures as the Panthers defeated the Boardman Spartans, 57-37 in the season opener for both schools Friday at Spartan Gymnasium.
Scott had a game-high 14 points and 12 rebounds while Marquis Cotton, Terrell McClain and Taylor Johnson each added 11 points for the Panthers, who made it a successful debut for new head coach Dennis Simmons.
“It’s always great to get the first win of the season and in this case, it will be a win that I will never forget. We had some jitters early on but then settled down and played our game,” Simmons said.
“Deontay is our captain for a reason. He’s our emotional leader and leads by example when on the court. He has broad shoulders and always wants the ball. He was the first player I contacted when I got the job,” Simmons added.
The Panthers led from opening tip to the final whistle, running off the first eight points of the game on triples from both Cotton and Johnson and a runner in the lane by Cotton.
The Spartans finally got on the board nearly three minutes into the game when Sam Mathey scored from the free throw line, but trailed the Panthers 17-11 after the first eight minutes of play.
Scott‘s four points in the second period then propelled East to a 24-17 halftime advantage.
Scott’s eight points after intermission then helped the Panthers (1-0) open up a 42-23 margin after the quarters of play, outscoring the Boardman (0-1) by a 33-20 count in the second half to ruin the debut of Spartans coach Pat Birch.
“We played with plenty of intensity and had a great team effort; that was the key for us tonight. It’s always nice to get that first win under your belt and especially nice to get the first win for coach [Dennis] Simmons.
The Panthers held a 30-27 rebound advantage and forced 24 Boardman turnovers.
“You aren’t going to win very many games scoring 37 points, especially on the varsity level. I was most proud of the fact that we came out with a lot of energy,” Birch said.
“We lost some of that energy in the third quarter and when that happens, we need someone to step up. Sustaining that energy for 32 minutes is something that we will work on,” Birch added.