Brock Netter, Staff Writer
PEEBLES — No one, not even Peebles itself, truly knows what this year’s team could be capable of.
The Indians have been quarantined three times this season, missing over 50 days of practices and games. So their team chemistry is a literal work in progress.
But they took a huge step in the right direction on Friday by avenging an earlier 21-point loss to Whiteoak (11-7, 9-3 SHAC) this season while serving the Wildcats a 58-35 drubbing in SHAC action.
“I thought we played very well on both ends of the ball, especially defensively,” Peebles coach Josh Arey said. “Whiteoak is a really good team, and they have a couple guys who can really get into the paint and do some damage. Our kids did as good of a job as they could of shutting down Whiteoak’s chances to drive into the lane and kick it out to their shooters.”
There was no catching Peebles (7-4, 5-2 SHAC) fresh out of quarantine this time. The Indians looked very well in sync as the interior presence of Dawson Mills and Alan McCoy took control.
McCoy handled things on the offensive end early with a couple of rebound and put backs, while also connecting on set plays for him. He had no problem taking advantage, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first half.
Mills, on the other hand, got to work defensively before it translated to the offensive side of the ball. At 6-foot-6, he used his length to register four blocks but also corral rebounds, 16 of them to be exact alongside 11 points.
“We wanted to feed the ball inside, and when you have guys like Alan, Dawson and Easton Wesley, who are all 6-foot-5 and taller, you have to take advantage of that,” Arey said. “They all did a great job of finishing around the rim and limiting those second chance points for Whiteoak. But our guards also did a great job of finding them inside.”
The Indians started the game 4-of-4 from the floor, controlling an early 8-3 lead. Keeping a firm grasp, Oakley Burba buried a triple that pushed their lead to double digits, ending the quarter with a 15-5 advantage.
Whiteoak had an answer in the second after Landon Barnett connected on back-to-back 3’s to bring the Wildcats’ deficit to 24-18. Ashbaugh later hit a layup for a 27-20 game, but Mills connected on a 25-footer at the halftime buzzer to put the Indians ahead 30-20.
“That was a huge shot, and I was lucky enough to have a great spot to see since it was right in front of me,” Arey said with a laugh. “But we got off to a hot start in the first because we took great shots. We moved the ball well, got it inside and finished. We hit a small lull offensively, but to hit a shot like that to put us ahead 10 points was a nice shot in the arm.”
That double-digit lead only grew from that point on. Mills continued to grab rebounds, although both teams struggled from the floor in the third. Yet, Peebles won the frame 9-5 for a 39-25 lead.
Burba took over in the fourth, scoring 11 of his game-high 20 points as the Indians held the Wildcats to just 18 second half points to seal the envelope.
“We were very disciplined on the defensive side of the ball, whether it was switching, closing out on shooters or moving our feet,” Arey said. “There weren’t many times we gave us penetration to the rim, but Dawson and Alan were there every time to altar shots. It led to some outlets and buckets on the other end. Overall, a great team win as we continued to work some things out.”
For Whiteoak, Ashbaugh finished with 14 points while Barnett added 10 points.
Peebles returns to action on Saturday at Fayetteville, while Whiteoak travels to Manchester on Tuesday.
Whiteoak: 21-10-12-18 — 35
Peebles: 14-10-12-12 — 58
Whiteoak: 13-53 FG, 4-7 FT, 5-18 3pt., 23 rebounds (Bailey 7), 9 turnovers, 8 assists (Roades 3). Scoring: Ashbaugh 14, Barnett 10, Nick Bailey 4, Roades 3, Hughes 2, Bryce Bailey 2.
Peebles: 23-46 FG, 8-12 FT, 4-10 3pt., 32 rebounds (Mills 16), 10 turnovers, 9 assists (White 3). Scoring: Burba 20, McCoy 14, Mills 11, White 7, Wesley 4, Johnson 2.