Vance High’s boys’ basketball team hasn’t had the best of seasons, struggling to deal with twice as many losses as wins.
Yet the Cougars still are in contention for one of the MECKA 4A’s automatic playoff spots, especially after Tuesday’s 62-46 victory over Mallard Creek.
Charlotte signee Torin Dorn scored 20 points – leaving him six shy of 1,000 for his career – and younger brother Myles Dorn added 16 for Vance (7-13, 5-6), which has won two straight and remains within striking distance of North Mecklenburg (17-3, 8-3) for third place in the conference standings.
With three games remaining, the Cougars would need to win out to have a chance to finish tied with the Vikings for the conference’s third automatic playoff berth.
That would be a tough task – Vance will host North Meck on Friday, then it will close out next week with a home game against Hopewell and a road game at league leader Hough.
“We’ve never wavered in our faith that we’re going to play in the playoffs,” Cougars coach Will Robinson said. “But it’s crunch time; anything can happen now. We’re hoping that our focus and energy can make it happen for us.”
The Mavericks (9-12, 3-8) gave Vance all it could handle during the first half, battling through eight lead changes and five ties before the Cougars pulled ahead late for a 30-25 halftime lead.
Mallard Creek held Torin Dorn to one first-half field goal and forced Vance into seven first-quarter turnovers and 20 for the game. But all of the turnovers only led to 12 points – six coming over the final three quarters.
“We were hoping to slow (Torin Dorn) down,” Mavericks coach Jon Hancock said. “But we were missing stuff that we should make.”
Foul problems also cost Mallard Creek, with leading scorer Terrance Durham held to 12 points, half his season average, after fouling out during the fourth quarter.
That opened the door for the Cougars, who took their first double-digit lead during the third quarter, then they stretched it to as many as 21 points early in the fourth.
“We were trying to hurry things,” Robinson said. “We just didn’t do what we normally do. In the second half, we were looking a lot better.”
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