Panthers Roll Past WTW in 11-5A Showdown

Hillcrest and W.T. White were each laboring to make two-point shots on Friday. But the Panthers were connecting on threes, while the Longhorns mostly put up zeroes.

In a battle between neighborhood rivals with depleted lineups, Hillcrest earned a convincing 52-38 victory in a key early clash in District 11-5A.

The host Panthers made six 3-pointers in the first quarter — including two apiece by Nate Macadory and Tre Mergerson — to take a double-digit lead, and WTW never significantly closed the gap.

“We realize that we have to shoot the ball well,” said Hillcrest head coach Kelan Jones. “We don’t have the depth that a lot of teams have, but we do have good shooters, so we have to take advantage of that. We did a good job of finding the open person.”

The Panthers have dealt with adversity early in the season due to injuries and player departures while facing a challenging nondistrict slate. However, Jones said the current roster has grown tighter as a result.

“These are the types of wins you need to have, especially at home,” he said. “If you’re on the roster, you will play, so be ready when your number is called. Everybody is recognizing their role.”

The shorthanded Longhorns (5-6, 2-2), who had just eight players in uniform, couldn’t capitalize on their size advantage and made just five field goals in the first half and struggled with turnovers.

The Panthers (4-8, 2-1) made just one shot in the third quarter but still extended the margin. Macadory’s jumper to open the fourth quarter stretched the advantage to 39-19.

Macadory finished with a game-high 16 points and Cade Vance added 14 for Hillcrest, while Israel Nansha added 10 rebounds.

Steven Cruz and Ardon West tallied 10 points apiece to pace WTW, which scored half of its points in the fourth quarter.

Although it’s still early in league play, the victory could be significant for Hillcrest down the line, given the expected tight battle for playoff berths in a competitive district that includes Kimball, Woodrow Wilson, and South Oak Cliff.

“Hopefully this will propel us to more consistency,” Jones said. “Everything has been changing, but this is a confidence booster.”

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