By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
If any play could encapsulate Saturday night’s matchup between Pinecrest Academy and visiting Galloway, it would be one that occurred late in the second quarter.
After a pair of errant passes and the resulting scores that followed, the Paladins saw the early 11-point lead they had built in their first-ever playoff appearance cut in half.
With under five remaining in the half, Pinecrest sophomore Charlie Soukup sank his first shot of the night, a three-pointer that marked the sixth for the Paladins and the second of the quarter.
Before the lively Pinecrest faithful in attendance had a chance to finish celebrating, freshman Oscar Lynch jumped the inbounds attempt for a quick steal, an easy layup, and within a matter of seconds, the Paladins restored a double-digit lead that they would not again surrender for the duration of a commanding 67-56 victory.
“In the locker room we had a thing, that we would just leave it all out there,” Lynch said. “I just timed it. I knew that if I could get that (steal) that it would keep the energy going.”
Relentless outside shooting and high-energy defense made all of the difference for Pinecrest. Six different Paladins sank threes with both Lynch and junior Josh Boeye each shooting four.
The Paladins have made a living with their outside shooting for the majority of the season, and while first-year head coach John Bauersfeld would like to see his squad make slightly more use of the paint, it was hard to argue with the result.
“I think they really packed it in against us in the first half,” he said. “They were really jamming that lane, doubling post-ups, and the threes were open.”
Defensively, the Paladins made extremely effective us of their size and length advantage throughout the night, consistently frustrating the Galloway guards and forcing them into errant passes while winning the vast majority of the rebounds on both the offensive and defensive glass.
“We did a good job on the boards,” Bauersfeld said. “Limiting them to one shot, and then trying to speed the tempo up. They’re a really well-coached team.”
The Galloway offense ran primarily through forward Anthony Arrington, who led his team in scoring with 20 points, the majority of which came in the paint and on fast breaks.
Lynch led a wide-spread offensive effort for Pinecrest with 24, followed by Boeye with 15 and his brother Hank Lynch with 10.
Despite leading his squad to both the most successful season in program history as well as the first postseason victory, Bauersfeld was quick to pass the credit to his players.
“They’re easy to coach,” he said. “They come in and work every day, and to be rewarded with a playoff berth and a win in the first round is just an awesome accomplishment for them.”
For Pinecrest’s season to continue, the Paladins will now have face both a familiar, and daunting opponent.
“The good news is we get to play somebody we’ve seen before,” he said with a grin. “The bad news is it’s St. Francis. We’ve seen them before, the mindset is to go out and just play.”