The season debut for the Villa Rica High School boys' basketball team looked smooth at times and sloppy at others. But what ultimately mattered for head coach Jason Robinson and his ballclub was the final result.
Villa Rica opened the 2017-18 campaign on the right foot Tuesday, racing past visiting Chapel Hill with a decisive 73-53 win.
The contest almost immediately turned into the Lattrel Swanigan show for the Wildcats (1-0) as the senior guard scored their first seven points of the contest. After hitting rough terrain and trailing the Panthers by one midway through the first, VR closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to take an 18-12 lead into the second period.
That's where the Wildcats started to create some separation with Swanigan continuing to knock down 3s, while senior point guard Javonte Hart effectively set his teammates up with easy baskets. Meanwhile down low, fellow senior Kalil Humphries crashed the boards on both sides of the court, getting three easy put-backs on CH defenders.
VR would carry a 42-24 lead into the locker room.
Coming out of halftime, several missed layups and a few defensive lapses allowed the Panthers to somewhat cut into the VR lead. But by the end of the quarter, the Cats got back on track to take a 15-point advantage into the final period.
From there, the shooting of Hart and sophomore guard Phillip Zachery closed things down for the Purple and Gold as it came away with its first victory of the season.
Swanigan led the way for VR with 28 points and five rebounds on the evening. The veteran coach Robinson was pleased to open the season on the winning side of things, as well as the play of his senior guard.
"I'm happy that we got our first home win," Robinson said. "Lattrel played really well both offensively and defensively. He hit his shots when he needed to and did a good job rebounding to get some easy baskets."
Despite the big victory, the head coach felt like his players left a lot to be desired when it came to execution.
"I hate to beat ourselves up after we won by 20, but we can be so much better," Robinson said. "We're still getting our feet under us. A lot of our guys playing a lot of minutes are coming back from football, so we just have to get them back into basketball shape and all on the same page. The effort was there. The intensity was there. It's just the execution."
Villa Rica will next be in action this Friday when it opens Region 7-AAAAA play at East Paulding at 7:30 p.m.