Senior Justin Tucker led the way for Dr. Phillips with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
DR. PHILLIPS The Dr. Phillips Panthers fended off a late rally by the West Orange Warriors Thursday night to pick up a 70-61 victory in the Metro Conference.
Though the Panthers (14-2) led by double-digits at several junctures in the contest, the Warriors (4-11) refused to go away quietly, forcing turnovers and cutting the lead to four points with just under two minutes to play. Some important converted free throws by Justin Tucker and Nick Smith enabled Dr. Phillips to create some space, though, earning the win.
"West Orange is an athletic group and we struggle a little bit with their athleticism," Panthers head coach Anthony Long said. "In the fourth quarter, eventually, we settled down — and once we settled down, we started to extend (our lead) a little bit."
Senior Justin Tucker led the effort for Dr. Phillips, registering yet another double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Nick Smith and Daniel Love each had 13 points. West Orange was led by 17 points from Ian Lopez and 13 points from Decary Croaker.
The Panthers, who withstood a rash of transfers over the summer to still get off to one of the best starts in the region, will again find themselves in a "next man up" situation down the stretch this season. Long confirmed that senior Jaquarius "Q" Bargnare has been dismissed from the team and that senior Richard McKenzie, a starter, has left the team.
Dr. Phillips next takes part in the "Showdown at O-Town" event Jan. 9 at Orlando Christian Prep. The Panthers will take on Lake Highland Prep in the final game of the event at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
"We're excited about it," Long said. "Lake Highland Prep is one of the better programs in the area, year-in and year-out, and so are we. We're looking forward to the matchup."
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].