ATHENS – The Palestine Wildcats opened their Athens tournament run with a highlight-filled victory over the Onalaska Wildcats.
The Wildcats annihilated Onalaska, 90-34, in their first game armed with their full varsity roster.
“We have to get in better shape,” head coach J.J. Johnson said. “Have to get the offense down. Have to move the ball and find that continuity. I loved the energy level.”
Palestine wasted little time getting going in their first match of the day as they shot out to a 9-3 advantage in the first two minutes of play.
Eric Carthen, who had 10 points on the day, splashed home his first three that extended Palestine's lead to 12-3. Marquis Thompson followed him with his first of three 3-pointers of the game to put Palestine up 15-3.
Onalaska claws back with a quick 6-1 run before the Wildcats outscored them 11-1 to close out the first quarter.
The second-quarter began with a bang. Dreyon Barrett found his second basket of the game from a vicious two-hand jam. Enoch Fatade poured in seven of his 14 points in the second quarter as Palestine continued to pull away.
Thompson netted his second trey ball of the game to give Palestine a 34-14 lead, while Quintin Cook remained energetic on the boards throughout the quarter.
“I got to get some of those guys going,” Johnson said. “They still have those football legs underneath them. Once they get their legs underneath them we're looking to be really good.”
The Wildcats press defense allowed them to carry a 48-22 lead into halftime.
The defensive intensity didn't dwindle out of the break. Onalaska was held to just eight points in the third and four points in the fourth.
“Defense was a big key note for us on the board,” Johnson said. “Have to keep that energy going. Right now they have to play themselves into shape. We're going to have to be a defensive team this year.”
An 11-3 Palestine run was capped off by a Fatade breakaway slam that sent the bench into an uproar. The senior guard screamed out with emotion with the Wildcats sitting comfortably up 59-25.
A bit of flavor on back-to-back layups was shown from Jeremiah Davis and De'Morrius Sessions to boost the lead to 67-27.
With the game already far out of hand, Palestine's starting five rested in the final quarter up 73-30 at the top of the fourth.
Barrett scored six of his 10 points in the final quarter, while Cook jammed home another Wildcat dunk in the final seconds of their first-round contest.
The Wildcats will play LaPoynor Friday at 6:30 p.m.