The No. 1 Patterson boys basketball team did many things well early on against No. 7 City on Monday.
It played focused team defense, put in relentless work on the boards and had good aim from the perimeter.
That take-charge run made things comfortable the rest of the way for the Clippers.
Quickly jumping out to a double-digit advantage in the first quarter, the Clippers were able to maintain a safe distance throughout to come away with a sound 69-58 home win over the Knights.
Junior guard Aquille Carr scored a game-high 25 points and junior forward Myrek Lee-Fowlkes added 15 as the Clippers improved to 5-1 on the season. The Knights, who got 13 points each from senior guard Christian Johnson and senior center Charles Tapper, lost for the first time and are now 5-1.
After 6-foot-10 senior center Leonard Livingston opened the scoring with two follow baskets for a 4-0 lead, the Clippers raced out to a 20-8 lead that saw every player on the floor contribute. Lee-Fowlkes turned a steal into a dunk and then added two 3-pointers; Shakir Brown (12 points) added a 3 and Carr twice finished off drives with points. With 56 seconds left in the first quarter, he weaved through traffic before putting a shot off the glass and in while drawing a foul. He converted from the line, and the three-point play provided the Clippers with a 20-8 lead.
"All we had to do was come in and control the game — that's what our coach [Harry Martin] always asks us to do," Lee-Fowlkes said. "We wanted to make City play at our pace and after that, it's just said and done."
The Knights, who mostly rely on a number of sophomores in addition to Johnson and Tapper, struggled finding their shots throughout the game. Unable to cut the lead inside double digits, they kept working hard despite being overmatched. Sophomores Omari George (11 points) and Tim Bond (10) also reached double figures in the setback.
After losing for the first time on Saturday against New York City powerhouse Lincoln, the Clippers responded well and Martin was particularly pleased with what he saw defensively.
"We came out with tremendous energy on the defensive end," he said. "We know we can score points, so we've been emphasizing this year to win a state title that we're going to have to play defense. Early on, that's probably the best effort I've seen in a while from us defensively."