In his 33rd season as Pleasure Ridge Park boys’ basketball coach, Dale Mabrey says he’s never seen a winter like this and the lack of practice time it has caused for his team.
So even though the game was sloppy at times, Mabrey had nothing but praise for his Panthers after their 75-59 victory at Iroquois on Tuesday night.
Mabrey said his team has practiced just twice in the past 10 days.
“To come over here and play Iroquois like we just did, I’m happy,” Mabrey said. “We could have executed better at times, but (Iroquois) could have executed better at times.
“It’s just so tough coming down the stretch right now and not having any practices. Thirty-three years I’ve been here, and I’ve never been through this.”
D’Angelo Hunter scored 19 points, Antonio McDaniels had 19 points and nine assists and Lamontray Harris pitched in 14 points as PRP — No. 8 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings — improved to 20-5.
The Panthers won the Louisville Invitational Tournament in mid-January and appeared to be clicking on all cylinders with an 11-game winning streak before a surprising 54-50 overtime loss to Holy Cross last Thursday.
“We had to regroup,” said Hunter, whose team beat Valley 91-55 on Friday. “It was a tough loss. Everybody has a bad night, but we had to bounce back and come together as a team again.”
Devon Johnson scored 23 points to lead No. 13 Iroquois (17-5). The Raiders committed just 11 turnovers compared with 21 for the Panthers, and had 20 more field-goal attempts but couldn’t take advantage, shooting just 29 percent.
“At some point you just have to convert and reward yourself for the effort,” Iroquois coach Jeff Morrow said. “Unfortunately, tonight we didn’t do that. … You’d like to feel like you played your best, and I don’t know that we did.”
With PRP up 16-14 after one quarter, Hunter scored seven points in the second — including a banked-in 3-pointer — as the Panthers took a 37-26 halftime edge.
Mabrey was unhappy with Hunter after he took an off-balance shot early in the second quarter, but was pleased with his play the rest of the way.
“He’s a great young man, but he gets so wound up that he does silly things,” Mabrey said. “When he takes a step back and takes a breath he’s a player. He knew this was going to be a war over here, so he was just too wound up.”
Iroquois pulled within 45-38 on Johnson’s layup late in the third quarter, and trailed 60-52 on Johnson’s basket with 2:55 remaining in the fourth, but never got closer.
It was Iroquois’ second straight loss after falling 79-59 at No. 12 Doss on Saturday. Many observers consider PRP and Doss the top two teams in the Sixth Region.
“I think that’s legitimate,” Morrow said. “Obviously they have the size that nobody else has. Their length makes them tough. I’d like to play either one of them again … but certainly they have to be looked at as favorites going into it.”
Mabrey likes his team’s chances — especially if it can get some practice time in before district tournament play starts Feb. 24.
“We were really playing well, and all this snow hits,” he said. “There is a lot of rhythm involved, but I couldn’t be happier with the way they fought tonight.”