The McKinleyville Panthers responded to an opening-day loss with two straight wins at the Enterprise tournament this week, including a 52-39 victory over West Valley to close out tournament play on Wednesday.
Cody Whitmer scored a team-high 16 points in the win, as the Panthers improved to 8-4 ahead of league play, which tips off on Tuesday.
And it is the team defense that continues to set the tone.
“Once again, it was our defense that really saved us,” head coach Cindy Semore Clancy said. “We put together some runs on offense, but our defense is winning games.”
Jack Clancy added 10 points against West Valley, while Owen Hamm scored nine points and Connor Alto eight.
Alto was a force at the tournament, grabbing numerous boards and taking some big charges that “really inspired our team’s intensity,” the head coach said.
The Panthers also defeated fall River 62-55 on Tuesday, one day after opening the tournament with a 64-48 loss to University Prep.
Whitmer finished with a team-high 13 points in the loss and followed that with a 22-point performance against Fall River.
Owen Hamm, who had 22 points over the first two games, also continues to impress, while Clancy had 11 points against Fall River and is beginning to come around after battling injury concerns early in the season.
Carson Parker also had a big tournament for the team, scoring eight points in the opener and 11 in game two, while Jordan Brown finished with eight points against University Prep.
The Panthers open the Big 5 at Fortuna on Tuesday night.