ANNA — This one went south for Anna early as the Van Alstyne’s Panthers blew to a 34-1 second-quarter lead on Tuesday, Dec. 19, then cruised to a comfortable 74-44 non-district win at Anna High School. Panther coach Russell Best simply said, “The kids came out and had a great first quarter and they finished the game — without getting anybody hurt.” So what does Best look for in a game like this? “We’ve got to keep playing hard with effort,” he said. “We try to stat hustle plays and just try to keep playing hard.”

That the Panthers did.

Guard Noah Boling tallied a game-high 23 points to lead Van Alstyne (8-3, 1-0 District 10-3A) while Samuel Tormos and Tyler Sperry rounded out the Panthers’ double-digit scoring list with 14 and 11 points, respectively. The surging Panthers, fresh off a 100-48 win at Class 3A Whitewright, led Anna 38-12 at halftime and 55-20 after three quarters as the Coyotes (3-11) scrapped to fight back.

Guard Gavin Reno finished with 12 points to lead Anna, with guard Noah Palshaw posting nine.

Early on, as Van Alstyne rolled to a 17-0 lead, the Coyotes couldn’t get a shot to fall. Finally, with 2:05 left in the first quarter, Jayden Rodgers drained a free throw for Anna’s first point. After Van Alstyne struck for eight more points to open the second stanza — including big 3s from Boling and Drelin Davis — the Coyotes battled to a near draw the rest of the quarter with buckets from Palshaw, Jackson Vandagriff and Reno. But by then the Panthers were in control.

The third quarter brought more Van Alstyne offense, with Jackson Rogers getting away for an exclamation-point near-coast-to-coast dunk as the third quarter wound down.

The Panthers and head coach Russel Best hope to continue this level of play against Farmersville on Tuesday, Jan. 2 after taking a short winter holiday hiatus. Tip off starts at 7:30 p.m. for this home conference match-up.

Van Alstyne scorers: Noah Boling 23, Samuel Tormos 14, Tyler Sperry 11, 8, Drelin Davis 8, Jackson Rogers 7, Teofanes Orduna 5, Austin Moore 4, Kobe Hunter 2.