The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


February 19, 2014

Bandy leads SWE past North Pitt

PINETOPS — PINETOPS – SouthWest hasn't been able to pick up a basketball and practice together or play a game together in nearly three weeks. That didn't stop senior Fabrion Bandy Tuesday night against the North Pitt Panthers. Bandy came out blazing with the hot hand for SouthWest. He scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Cougars 73-65 Eastern Plains Conference victory.

"Fabrion played solid the entire game," SouthWest coach Anthony Burns said. "He played inside his game and didn't try to do too much. He let the game come to him when he had the chance."

Bandy scored six in the first and lit it up in the second, scoring 11 points in the frame, which gave the Cougars a 37-31 lead at halftime, with Bandy scoring 17 of them.

Middle way through the fourth, during a stoppage in play, Burns pulled Bandy to the side with 3:58 left and SouthWest leading 61-54.

"I told Fabrion to keep playing within himself and not to push it," Burns said. "I knew it was late in the game and you want the ball in your stars hands, but at the same time you can't force it and have to let it come to you."

Bandy listened and passed the word on to his teammates, because the Cougars tried to slow the pace down and find decent shots after blowing a 15 point lead. The Cougars forced North Pitt to turn the ball over on two consecutive possessions after Burns talk with Bandy. He hit a turnaround jumper off of an offensive rebound and Antonio Dickens made one of two free-throws to give the Cougars a 68-61 lead with 1:40 left to play. After scoring a basket to answer right back, North Pitt started fouling. SouthWest struggled from the line late in the game, but had enough cushion to stay in control. They were just 3-for-8 down the stretch and 16-for-28 in the game from the foul line.

"I was impressed with how we played," Burns said. "We came out and did some good things."

The Cougars used their defense to turn in to offense, despite blowing a 10 point lead in the first half and a 13 point lead in the second half. They forced North Pitt to commit 18 turnovers and scored 17 points off of those Panther mistakes.

"The game plan was to pack it in the 3-point line," Burns said. "Everyone had to crash the boards and get rebounds on their (North Pitt) missed shots. I told them if we did those two things we had a chance to win."

Burns thinks his team's discipline carried them a long way in the game. He said staying disciplined on defense and getting rebounds was the key to staying ahead of the Panthers.

"I told them that wins and losses are going to come from the mental part of the game this time of the season," Burns said. "We followed the game plan and were disciplined. I couldn't be more happy."

The Cougars have two more games left before the 2-A playoff brackets are released Saturday. They are currently in fourth place heading into tonight's game. But two more wins could help them grab a share of third place and earn a possible guaranteed berth.

"We have to take it one game at a time," Burns said. "I am going to give it to the seniors and see if they can go win it for us. I have seven seniors so it is up to them."

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