Knights race past Pungo

Published 11:19 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2018

PANTEGO — Each team played Friday, but Pungo appeared to still be finding itself after all the time off from Christmas and the recent winter weather.

Terra Ceia, meanwhile, had no problem hitting the ground running in an 88-43 win when the two Beaufort County rivals met on the Knights’ court on Tuesday.

Alex VanStaalduinen went to work under the basket. Shiftier players like Johannes VanEssendelft, Matt VanStaalduinen and Gunner Couch were the motor of Terra Ceia’s transition offense. The result was a 19-6 lead. The Knights’ defense held Pungo to one made basket in the opening period until Chandler Cuthrell drained a 3-pointer in the last second.

“We had a game Friday night. We were really rusty. That kind of got the guys back in the flow,” Knights coach Stan Allen said. “That’s the best they’ve played all season. They did the game plan to perfection.”

Terra Ceia thrived from long range. Couch opened the second with a dead-on trey. On the next possession, he faked the shot from downtown only to step in and knock down another jumper from midrange.

“You can tell we were on from 3,” Allen said. “If these boys get relaxed shooting 3s, they can really shoot the ball. To keep them focused, as young as we are, is one of the major jobs. They just really played hard. It’s a rivalry game. Both teams played hard.”

Omarian Blount kept the ball rolling. He hit a 3 of his own late in the second. He then drilled back-to-back shots from behind the arc to push Terra Ceia’s lead to 45-21 in the third.

“If you can kind of break the spirit of the other team, that’s what you try to do. The 3s do it all the time if you get too many 3s back-to-back,” Allen said.

But the Raiders showed signs of life. Cameron Howell and Nate VanStaalduinen helped piece together a flurry, but their defense continued to show cracks as the Knights ended the period on a 10-2 run.

Ryan Bishop soars to the rim for a layup.

Terra Ceia continued to pour in 3s in the fourth. A layup from Blount provided the 40-point advantage that forced a running clock.

Coming down the stretch, Terra Ceia has proven that, despite all it lost from last year, it is still the team to beat in the Tar Heel Independent Conference.