Knights double down on Pungo, 95-46

Published 11:53 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PANTEGO — Terra Ceia vs. Pungo is one of the most respectful, yet heated, rivalries in Beaufort County. The Knights and Raiders have a history of thrilling games. A dozen points decided both their encounters last season, and both were even closer than the final score leads one to believe.

Tuesday’s matchup — the first this season between the two — was far from the bar set last season. The Raiders graduated their top-five scorers from a year ago, and Terra Ceia decimated them, 95-46.

“I preach to these guys, especially now, it’s not about that opposing team on that bench,” Knights coach Roger Klaassen said. “It’s about what are we and what are we going to get to. That’s what we’re working on — to still get better.”

“We’re still 4-3 in conference … I think we’re right where we want to be,” Raiders coach Mart Benson added. “… They’re probably the quickest team that we’ve ever seen. Our game plan was to slow the game down, but it’s almost impossible.”

Jonathan Langley’s layup tied the game at 2-2 early on, but the Knights exploded from there. Tyler Hendrix and Shaiquan Moore each knocked down a 3-pointer, and Quentin Van Essendelft set up three-straight transition baskets as Terra Ceia took off on a 23-1 run.

Quentin Van Essendelft has his eye on the basket as he jumps out in transition.

Quentin Van Essendelft has his eye on the basket as he jumps out in transition.

Hendrix hit two more from long range in the second quarter, and Messiah Barnes added a 3 from the corner. The Knights, already with a big lead, started to put on a show for their fan base. Barnes and Moore each slammed down dunks, much to the delight of the packed gymnasium.

“I told these guys last night, ‘You’re going to go out there and play in front of a packed house. Enjoy the moment. You don’t get many chances to play in that kind of atmosphere,’” Klaassen said. “That’s real enjoyable to see their reaction. I hand it to our Knight nation. They support us no matter where we go.”

Langley had a pair of buckets from beyond the arc in the quarter. The Raiders were also able to get Terra Ceia in foul trouble in the first half, but they couldn’t answer the Knights’ speed as the home side took a 55-20 advantage into halftime.

Pungo made three of the first four shots of the second half, including a triple by Archer Johnson. It jumpstarted a better second half for the Raiders, but the deficit was far too much to overcome.

“I think we played some of the best ball I’ve seen them play in the second half,” Benson said. “I think if they had played as good as they played in the second half, even with the score at halftime, I think we would have come into this game undefeated.”

Terra Ceia continued to get about everything it wanted. Darius Blackledge posterized Langley, and Hendrix slammed one down in transition, too. Langley bounced back with a trey to end the third, but Pungo found itself trailing, 79-35.

“I had to try and finish it,” Blackledge said. “I got real hyped. Everybody was yelling.”

Hendrix led the Knights with 20 points. Moore (19), Austin Roscoe (18), Barnes (18) and Blackledge (15) all scored in double figures. Barnes had 10 assists for a double-double.