Boling's triple-double helps Panthers power past Coyotes

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Van Alstyne's J.J. Boling had a triple-double -- 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists -- during the Panthers win against Anna in District 9-4A play.

VAN ALSTYNE — Coming off a year where the Panthers reached the region quarterfinals before losing to the defending champions who were on their way to a third straight state tournament  appearance, there were going to be some big expectations since Van Alstyne was returning three of its top four scorers.

And when VA went to the prestigious Whataburger Tournament over the Christmas break and beat defending 3A champ San Antonio Cole in the semifinals and defending 4A champion Argyle for the Blue Division title, some additional scrutiny was placed on the Panthers heading into district play.

“Tournaments like that are good because you get four games and you have to be consistent to win them,” VA head coach Russell Best said. “Obviously they put four really good games together.”

So far things have also gone well in the early part of 9-4A action as J.J. Boling paired a triple-double with Carson Brown’s scoring balance in both halves of Van Alstyne’s 81-56 victory over the Anna Coyotes.

Boling finished with 21 points – 17 in the second half, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, Brown totaled 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals and Blake Skipworth scored 15 points, hitting four threes, for Van Alstyne (17-5, 2-0), which plays at Melissa on Tuesday with the winner gaining sole possession of first place.

“I thought we were trying to do a little too much first half,” Best said. “Second half we did a better job of getting better looks.”

Mason Cotton scored 13 points, Jonathan Brown added 12 points and Greg Cade chipped in nine points for Anna (14-8, 2-1), which made nine three-pointers out of 18 baskets in the game. In the first half the Coyotes hit only nine shots but five were threes.

“You can’t take away everything,” Best said. “We didn’t want to give them anything cheap in transition, make them shoot over hands.”

Carson Brown had consecutive dunks in transition to open the fourth quarter on long outlet passes from Boling and he added a third for good measure when he came up with a midcourt steal to make it 66-44 with 5:22 on the clock.

Van Alstyne’s lead peaked at 28 points on Boling’s last points of the night — VA’s ninth and final three-pointer.

The Panthers broke the game open in the middle of the third quarter as Boling started to heat up and VA was notching points three at a time. Four three-pointers and a three-point play widened the gap and a 10-0 run from the home team push the lead to 56-38 in the latter stages of the frame and the margin was 14 points heading to the fourth.

Boling had 10 of VA’s points in the quarter, connecting twice from deep, with Skipworth providing another three and the three-point play.

Van Alstyne took an eight-point lead early in the second quarter before the Coyotes used a 12-2 run on the strength of three threes, two by Cade, to go in front for the only time at 24-22 with 4:44 to go in the first half.

The advantage was short-lived as Carson Brown tied the game 21 seconds later and started a 9-0 run. Boling found Kade Ramer underneath on consecutive possessions and Skipworth drilled another three to make it 31-24 with 2:15 showing.

Anna’s last basket of the second quarter was Jonathan Brown’s layup to put the Coyotes in front — they managed just five free throws the rest of the half as Van Alstyne went into the locker room with a 35-29 advantage.

Skipworth provided the early spark with a pair of three-pointers from the right corner for the quick 6-2 lead and Carson Brown helped extend things with a three of his own and another basket as VA held a 14-8 advantage.

But Cotton and Dennis Jefferson, who scored with 11 seconds left in the first quarter, gave the Coyotes a strong finish to the frame and they were down just 16-12.