Asheville High senior Niry Perez was feeling it Tuesday night.
That never bodes well for the opposition.
Perez poured in a season-high 30 points and the Cougars collected a key Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A win at Erwin, 53-47.
Perez came into Tuesday averaging a team-high 14.8 points per game for Asheville (7-10, 4-2), which is now at least a game up on the rest of the MAC 3-A division.
Perez scored the first eight points of the second quarter for the Cougars and had 19 at halftime. The guard knocked down all five of her 3-point attempts in the first and second quarters to give her team a 27-25 lead at the break.
“My mindset is to shoot the ball if I’m open and drive if I need to,” Perez said.
“The main thing is doing whatever it takes to help my team win. Honestly, I didn’t think we were going to come over here tonight and do well. It’s a big win for us. We needed it.”
No other Cougars player scored in double figures Tuesday, but Mirrah Colbert-Grant added eight points, with five of them coming from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Erwin (9-8, 2-3), which is the three-time defending MAC 3-A champion, was led by Kendra Griffin (11 points) and Rachael Johnson (10).
“Erwin just doesn’t lose, especially here in their gym, so this is huge for us,” Asheville coach Marvin Smith said.
“If we play defense, I really believe we can play with anyone this conference.”
Smith is in his second season as coach. How far have the Cougars come in the past year? They were 2-21 last season and only won one MAC game.
“Our team is really bonding and coming along,” Perez said.
“We understand that if our defense is good then our offense can come from it.”
The MAC officially recognizes a 3-A and a 4-A champion in every sport. Neither the McDowell boys (14-3, 5-0) or the girls (10-6, 5-0) have lost a game yet, and therefore sit atop each 4-A division.