BURGAW, NC (WWAY)–It was a win that was nearly three years in the making. The Pender boys basketball team knocked off Laney last Friday night for their first win over the Buccaneers since 2016. That win earned the Patriots this weeks Full Court Press Team of the Week.
So far, in 2019 Pender has played three schools that are in bigger classifications than them. They use the tough non-conference part of their schedule to prepare themselves for further down the road.
“As a coach you know you want to play the very best,”said Patriot head coach Ray Hankins. “I want to get the guys out there to have that experience and know what we are capable of doing when we come back to the conference.”
Last Friday night against Laney the Patriots fell behind 17-2 after the first quarter. It was something they learned in game of the season against the Bucs that eventually led them to the come from behind win.
“The first time we played Laney our composure just wasn’t there like it was the second game,”said Pender senior Jajuan Carr. “On Friday we really didn’t even look at the scoreboard, we just kept playing.”
Headed into the 2019 season the Patriots were coming off of a 18-8, but lost nearly 20 points per game with the transfer of guard Khalil Marshall. It took them awhile to adjust, but they knew early on in the off season everything was going to be just fine.
“During the summer we went to Fayetteville to know and I just knew we were going to be special,”says Patriots senior Mike Armstong. “We never talked about him being gone, it was someones going to have to come in and replace that scoring.”
It is still early in the year, but this Pender team looks poised to make a deep run in the State playoffs. They know exactly where they want to be at the end of the season, but for now they are taking things one dribble at a time.
“We have to take it day by day, practice by practice, and game by game,”says Hankins. “Of course the end goal is a State Championship, but at the same time we have to take care of business each day.”
Pender will be back in action this weekend in the Good Guys vs. Cancer Tournament put on by First Flight. The Patriots first game will be against Washington County, a team that made it to the East Finals last season.