Late three-pointer lifts Panthers over Pam Pack

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, January 20, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS DRIBBLE-DRIVE: Washington senior Allison Brantley dribbles in against Northside senior Alex Adams in the fourth quarter.

DRIBBLE-DRIVE: Washington senior Allison Brantley dribbles in against Northside senior Alex Adams in the fourth quarter.

PINETOWN — Since joining the Northside girls’ basketball team, Alex Adams has always had a flair for the dramatic and the ability to hit the big shot when it matters most. On Tuesday against a county rival, another high arching three-pointer in the waning seconds sealed a 49-48 win over Washington. And in the eyes of her head coach, clutch has become commonplace.

“Alex just came down and hit a big shot. She does it all the time. It ain’t nothing unusual. She did exactly what we wanted her to do,” Michelle Leathers said.

But the Panthers floor general contributed more than just a well-timed basket. Adams shot a high percentage from the field throughout the contest, finishing with 25 points and four assists, and was a consistent threat on defense, coming through with four rebounds and a game-high seven steals.

Early on, Adams and junior Kendall Alligood applied constant pressure in the half court and frustrated the Pam Pack’s transition offense, one that has taken a beating in the New Year. Washington hung around, however, as a pair of baskets from Ruby Perez and Tierra Wiggins kept the visiting team in the game, but a few adjustments from Leathers paid dividends down the stretch.

“I changed my lineup and went with the bigs, which just needed to get used to each other,” she said. “They came out, everybody gelled together and everybody played hard. We stayed focused and pulled it out.”

Despite a quiet first half from senior center Abby Walker, Washington began to covert second-chance opportunities in the paint and rebound efficiently, but for Northside, Adams came alive in the second quarter, recording three steals on defense and dropping seven points. Leading 24-20 at the half, Adams’ rhythm would persist through the second half and her final stat line would ultimately be the difference.

As Walker caught fire out of the break, dropping a quick six points and forcing three turnovers, center Quartasia Clark and Adams began to capitalize and match Washington’s production in the paint.

But in the final eight minutes, the Pam Pack worked its way to the free throw line, converted and began to chip away at the deficit. A three from Timia Ebron with 33 seconds left gave Washington its first and largest lead since the second quarter.

With time ticking away, Adams worked her way to the line and converted one of two free throws. But on the ensuing Northside possession, Adams took the ball up the court, juked out a defender, worked an opening and drained a three pointer with eight seconds remaining on the clock, putting the Panthers up a point.

Washington would quickly work the ball up court, but failed to finish after a fumbled pass resulted in a Northside possession with less than two seconds remaining — a fitting ending for a team that has struggled to retain control of the ball in transition through the last month.

For Washington, Walker finished with a team-high 12 points and four rebounds, while Wiggins notched a quiet seven points. Alligood and Rachel Lang both finished with five a piece for the Panthers.

“This is a ‘next-door’ win. We motivated and have been practicing hard. We knew we could do it, we just needed to believe in ourselves,” Leathers said.

Washington will travel to Kenly on Friday for an Eastern Plains Conference matchup against North Johnston (7-8, 0-2 EPC), while Northside will seek its second Coastal Plains Conference win against Lejeune (9-1, 3-0 CPC).