Panthers look sharp in opener|Face Edenton for championship

Published 5:08 am Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sports Writer

YEATESVILLE — Northside made a good first impression as its girls basketball team used a balanced attack on offense and an aggressive zone defense to top Mattamuskeet 54-44 in the first round of the PCS/Northside Tip-Off Tournament Tuesday.
The Panthers (1-0) held a distinct advantage in the paint as post players Rochelle Davis and Rebekah Bonney led the way with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The duo not only produced points when needed, but provided a strong defensive presence and hit the boards hard.
The Lakers (0-1) countered with solid play by guards Kenya Spencer and Shakiar McCabe who had 12 points each.
The two teams battled evenly for three quarters, but in the end Northside out-scored Mattamuskeet 19-11 in the fourth quarter to seal the deal and advance to the championship round of the tournament for the first time in head coach Michelle Leathers’ three-year tenure.
“If you only knew (how good getting a win feels)”,” Leathers said. “I can’t even really explain it, I still remember when we were like 0 for 20-something.”
The Panthers had seven players on its roster score points and got good minutes off the bench from freshmen Brittany Alligood, Mallory Paul and Jordan Woolard.
Alligood did a nice job handling the ball under pressure, while Woolard provided a sturdy post defense.
Starters Antwanesia Whichard, Elizabeth Harris and Melinda Paniagua each had their moments and provided key points.
Whichard tallied nine points, four of which came in the fourth quarter, while Paniagua added two fourth-quarter points. Harris posted eight points, with four coming in the final stanza.
While the balanced effort on offense was nice to see, it was greatly aided by a Northside defense that was constantly in the passing lanes.
“That’s the kind of defense I like to see them play,” Leathers said. “I like to see them get out in the lanes, anticipate the pass and read the defense.”
Mattamuskeet’s first-year coach Charles Green said he was happy with his team’s debut despite the fact that the Lakers missed a few practices last week because of heavy rain.
“I think we did real well,” Green said. “Due to the weather last week there wasn’t much time to practice, when the school is closed we can’t practice. But I think they did a lot of good things. We hung in there for three quarters.”
The Lakers held a 30-27 lead as late as midway through the third quarter, but could not hold on to the advantage.
Green said that fatigue was a contributing factor.
“Not practicing like we normally do, I think their legs got little tired and heavy,” Green said. “But I thought we got a good effort from Kenya Spencer and my guards Quanisha (eight points) and Anteshia Cox (five points).”
The tournament will resume today when Mattamuskeet tips off against Pamlico, who lost to Edenton 44-17 in the opening game, at 6 p.m.
Northside will play Edenton in the championship game immediately after the Lakers-Aces matchup.
Mattamuskeet 12- 9 12 11 — 44
Northside 13 12 10 19 — 54
Lakers (44)
Cox 5, Shakiar McCabe 12, Kenya Spencer 12, Whitfield 8, Burrus 6.
Panthers (54)
Rochelle Davis 14, Rebekah Bonney 10, Gaynor 8, Whichard 9, Harris 8, Woolard 3, Mallory 2.