There have been nights when Brainerd's Orlando Moore presents a case that he is a good a player as anyone in the tri-state area.
Unfortunately for the Panthers and their coach, Robert High, those nights have been sporadic and unpredictable. Fortunately for them, Saturday was one of them.
The big junior forward had his way with the Hixson Wildcats Saturday in a game postponed from Friday, scoring 27 points and adding 20 rebounds in a 70-35 victory that restored the Panthers to the .500 mark, 10-10. But more importantly, it was Brainerd's second District 6-AAA win of the week at 8-4.
Moore, who was briefly benched last week, contributed in every area Saturday. In addition to hitting 13 of his 19 field goal attempts, he claimed eight offensive rebounds among his 20, blocked four shots and still had time for three assists. What it wasn't, High said, was his best game.
“He's had two or three games just about like this one,” High explained. “Those nights might not have better than this one, but they were just as good.”
The big night began then the Panthers, who were attacking the glass with enthusiasm at both ends, but twice Dmitri Glenn found the open man in Moore and Marquis Tipton likewise made a dazzling pass to earn the easy layup. The end product of that sequence was a 14-3 Panthers lead that set the tone for the night.
“I wish I knew how to dial it in to get it for us every night,” High said. “But even Tuesday against East Hamilton, we did a good job of making the extra pass.”
But as a 10-10 record would indicate it, the Panthers have had as many lowlights as highlights. The secret of sustaining might be on the verge of being solved.
“It has been really, really, really hard,” said the coach. “I've told them that we have as much talent as any team in town. It's a matter of understanding that and making the most of it. I think maybe we're at the point of they're hearing what we're saying.”
Even the Panthers' third quarter letdown was not in evidence Saturday, as two Moore field goals started the half on an 8-0 run. When the dust settled, nine different players scored, including Tipton with 12 points; point guard Jay Besley, who matched his six points with six assists; and just-promoted JV'er Tyree Stubbs, who impressed High with seven points and six rebounds in limited time.
The Wildcats, who have settled in the basement of the district at 1-9 (7-15 overall) got 13 points and nine reboundsd from D'Mondta Smith and a varsity career high 10 from Justice Alameda off the bench.
BRAINERD GIRLS 63 HIXSON 37 Jamee Ward, Brainerd's outstanding freshman guard, scored 30 points for the second time in her varsity career and the Lady Panthers won a weather-delayed Distrrtict 6-AAA game from the Hixson Lady Wildcats, 63-37.
Ward scored 17 points in the first half and hit four 3- pointers for the 9-11 Lady Panthers of Coach Carolyn Jackson, doesn't figure to end her long and glorious career so long as she has Ward in her starting lineup.
“She kind of makes the job easier,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, she tries to do too much at its a matter of getting her under control. But this is a young team, and they are growing up together.”
But one of Jackson's few seniors, Anisha Douglas, contributed a huge game with 18 points and seven rebounds. She opened Brainerd's scoring with back-to-back three-point plays, then helped get the ball to Ward, who scored the next nine points. Later in the second quarter, Ward popped a couple of 3-point shots to open a 31-14 lead, which rendered the second half pretty much meaningless.
Hixson (8-11, 4-5) got 14 points from Marissa Hill and 10 from Cierra Taylor.
Hixson 9 6 11 9 – 35
Brainerd 16 20 20 14 – 70
HIXSON (35) – Justice Alameda 10, Nelson 1, D'Mondta Smith 13, Hayes 6, Diaz 3, Abbott, Novene 2, Glass, Nunley, Dobbs, Bates.
BRAINERD (70) – Besley 6, Stewart 2, Marquis Tipton 12, Dc. Otis, Ds. Otis, Glenn 7, Moore, Shropshire 2, Bass 2, Orlando Moore 27, Cooper 5, Stubbs 7.
3-pt. Goals: Hixson 5 (Alameda 2, Hayes 2, Smith); Brainerd 2 (Tipton). Records: Hixson 7-15, 1-9; Brainerd 10-10, 8-4.
Hixson 11 9 8 9 – 37
Brainerd 15 21 8 19 – 63
HIXSON (37) – Marissa Hill 14, Cierra Taylor 10, Harmon 3, Staten 6, Massengale 4, Nelson, McClellan, Johnson, Yates, Fernandez.
BRAINERD (63) – Woods 2, Anisha Douglas 18, Rowland 9, Jamee Ward 30, Walker 2, Ashley, Ellis 2.
3-point goals: Hixson 4 (Taylor 2, Hill, Harmon); Brainerd 8 (Ward 4, Douglas 3, Rowland). Records: Hixson 8-10, 4-5; Brainerd 9-11, 7-3.