By BRUCE HEFFLINGER

Sports Writer

HARROD - A two-week break proved to be beneficial to the Paulding boys basketball team.

The Panthers, which had lost seven games by single digits in the 2018 portion of the schedule, got the new year off to a great start with a 66-50 Northwest Conference victory over Allen East on Friday evening.

“The break really helped us mentally and physically,” admitted Paulding coach Brian Miller after his squad picked up its first NWC win of the season. “It also gave us time to focus on a few areas that have cost us close games.

“Tonight we were really focused and improved in those areas, especially offensive rebounding.”

The Panthers dominated this one from the start, outscoring the host Mustangs in every quarter.

Six different Paulding players scored in the first quarter alone helping the visitors to a 17-11 lead after one. Fletcher Cook, who had five points in the opening stanza, added seven in the second quarter while Jaret Miller and Carson Shull tallied five apiece as the lead grew to 37-26 at half.

“Fletcher was really good tonight,” Miller said of Cook, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “I thought he controlled the game.”

Miller contributed 15 points and Shull 11 for Paulding, which outscored Allen East 10-8 in the third quarter before pulling away with a 19-16 advantage in the final period.

“We got some balance from Jaret and Carson and I also thought that Luke Dunakin and Bailey Manz really played well in the second half,” the Paulding coach added after the Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak.

Devin Reed and Cole Fletcher scored 10 points each to lead Allen East, which won the rebounding battle 31-27 but turned the ball over on 18 occasions, three times more than the Panthers, in dropping its second NWC contest in three outings this season.

Paulding also outshot the Mustangs, hitting 25-52 from the floor for 48 percent while Allen East was 20-50 for 40 percent. The Panthers were 9-15 at the foul line for 60 percent and the Mustangs 5-6 for 83 percent.

The loss marked the first home defeat of the campaign in four games for Allen East, which fell to 6-4 overall. The 66 points by Paulding were also the most scored on the Mustangs this season.

Score by Quarters

Paulding       17  20  10 19  -  66

Allen East     11  15   8  16  -  50

Paulding 66: McGarvey 2-0-1-5; Shull 4-1-0-11; Manz 1-1-0-5; Eblin 1-0-1-3; Kesler 1-0-0-2; Miller 3-2-3-15; Dunakin 1-0-0-2; Cook 5-3-4-23. Totals 18-7-9-66.

Allen East 51: Crumrine 2-0-3-7; T. Clum 3-1-0-9; Harris 1-0-0-2; Reed 4-0-2-10; Fletcher 5-0-0-10; Dotson 0-2-0-6; D. Clum 0-2-0-6. Totals 15-5-5-50.

JV Score: Paulding, 42-23.