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No. 1 Plano East rolls over No. 10 Allen with defensive dominance

by | Feb 28, 2024 | Sports

The Plano East Panthers are headed to the Regional Quarterfinals after their dominant run through the Class 6A tournament continued Tuesday night. The No. 1 Panthers defeated Allen 79-52. Next up, they will travel to the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Ft. Worth to take on V.R. Eaton this Friday, March 1. Roosevelt Goubert/Murphy Monitor

GARLAND – The No. 1 Plano East Panthers reached the regional quarterfinals for the first time in over 20 years, and looked like they belonged.

Taking on No. 10 Allen, East took over in the second quarter and never looked back, winning 79-52. The game was physical to start, with East clinging to a 13-8 advantage after the first quarter, but things quickly changed in the second.

The Panthers’ bench stepped up in a big way, outscoring the Eagles 20-9 in leading to the half-time break with a 33-17 advantage. Ethan Moss and Rachard Angton added 3-pointers, sparking an early 8-0 run to open the quarter. The outside shot was opened up due to DJ Hall’s presence in the paint. He scored six in the first and led all scorers with 17 in the game.

“I don’t think the referees and coaches made any of difference,” Wester said. “DJ made some great passes to cutters and we made some plays turning defense into offense. It was good players on both sides and we prepared them for this game. We knew if we could not turn the ball over and move the ball, we could get shots. We were able to do that in the first half. We also knew the way they helped we could get cuts to the baskets and get layups.”

The depth was essential in both halves for the Panthers, as several of the more experienced starters suffered from foul trouble. With Isaiah Brewington and Jon Tran on the sideline, Angton, Narit Chotikavanic and Moss all stepped up in big moments. As the team strengthened its lead, the depth kept the defensive intensity even when the starters were out.

“Especially with these guys, it’s more about matchups,” Wester said. “[Allen] has depth and they wear everybody down. I thought we looked warn down out there, but Ethan and Rachard gave us big minutes. To have him be able to come in and give us that type of defense, not turn the ball over and hit an important shot. You can’t replace Isaiah, but he can come in and do that.”

In the second half, Allen upped the intensity with full-court pressure. The Eagles wanted to increase the tempo of the game, but that only led to more layups and fast break opportunities for the Panthers. Allen couldn’t get any closer than 10 points in the second half before the Panthers reignited their lead.

“The difference between our team and theirs is they shoot like twice as many 3-pointers as us,” Wester said. “We always feel like when you have a team on the ropes, the best way to take the wind out of them is to get layups. We saw the scouting report and knew we could get layups in certain situations.”

Xavier Miller was a big reason for Plano East’s second-half performance, scoring 17 points as well. As a team, the Panthers have preached sacrifice and togetherness, meaning even dynamic players like Miller had to sacrifice shooting opportunities for the greater good. On Tuesday night, he had a chance to put the game away with key baskets late.

“You could go through our team and bring up a bunch of examples,” Wester said. “Xavier could score any game, but we ask him to do so much. Rachard, Narit, Ethan and Seth [Romero] can all start on teams around the area, but sacrifice. Isaiah had 100 wins in his career but was good with sitting on the bench when we needed him too. We know what’s at stake and everyone is eager to prove themselves.”

With the victory, Plano East advances to the regional semifinals to face V.R. Eaton at Wilkerson-Grienes Activity Center on March 1, with tip-off at 8 p.m. The winner advances to the regional final to take on the winner of Keller and Lewisville at the same location on Saturday at 1 p.m.  

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