Undefeated North Pitt too much for Pam Pack

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS OUTPACED: Point guard Timia Ebron tries to find an opening in the rock solid North Pitt defense.

OUTPACED: Point guard Timia Ebron tries to find an opening in the rock solid North Pitt defense.

The North Pitt girls’ basketball team defended its undefeated record and top spot in the Eastern Plains Conference Tuesday night with an overriding 71-40 win over Washington, a team that has yet to find its stride in conference play.

Leaning on an active motion offense with a variety of different scoring options, the Panthers operated efficiently throughout the night and exhausted a Pam Pack that posted a 6-1 record in out-of-conference play.

“We had visions of really limiting the amount of possessions and slowing the game down,” said head coach Jon Scharpenberg. “We did, we got them out of their zone, but unfortunately they ran that half court trap. We’re not ready for execution all the time, but at points in the game, we had some great moments. At lot of this is them just being a very good team.”

Entering with an area best 17-0 record without one senior on the roster, it was another big night for the Panthers’ top-two scorers, freshman Nyjanique Langley and junior Dorian Sharp. Langley’s game centered around driving the lane and challenging the Pam Pack at mid-range. She finished with a game-high 25 points, while Sharp notched 21 points and five rebounds at power forward.

It was a daunting matchup for a Washington team looking to rebuild, but Abby Walker’s ability to hit open and contested layups kept the Pam Pack in it early on. Walker corralled rebounds and scored eight of the team’s 10 first quarter points, as North Pitt led 14-10. It’s individual efforts like the senior center’s Scharpenberg is seeking moving forward.

“What I’m looking for is whether or not our kids are going to listen, play hard and get better,” he said. “To me, those are the things I’m looking for. Wins and losses right now … look, we’re building something special here. They have to buy into that and they’re starting to get it.”

Despite the positive words, the Panthers’ frontcourt proved too much for the home team in the second quarter. On top of 13 points from Sharp, who was silent through the first eight minutes, the North Pitt guards pressured at half court and eliminated Washington’s transition offense. The Panthers led 37-19 at the half.

Clearly fatigued out of the break, the Pam Pack struggled to keep pace with the visitor’s high-octane offense. A three pointer and two free throws would be all the offense Washington could muster in the third quarter, as North Pitt opened up a commanding 57-24 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

“You can’t control how good the other team it,” Scharpenberg said. “We have a long way to go. Our girls don’t quit and that’s what I like about this team. No one’s worried about their own points.”

The deficit allowed Scharpenberg to throw some of his bench players into the fire and a select few, actually, provided a bit of a spark on both sides of the ball. Freshman Tierra Wiggins came through with a few scrappy rebounds, as well as a three-pointer, Erica Hopkins continued to control the glass after a solid first half and Sydney Edwards applied tight defensive pressure, forcing turnovers.

“It shows you who is on board,” Scharpenberg said. “Sydney Edwards came in tonight and did a fantastic job. She flat out gets what we’re trying to teach. By her doing that, not being a regular player, I think that sends a message to everybody. I’ll play anyone that will listen.”

With the reserves in the game on both sides, Washington outscored North Pitt, 16-14, in the final quarter, but failed to cut the lead to less than 20 points.

Walker finished with eight rebounds and a team-high 13 points, while Hopkins recorded a quiet double-double 10 points and 11 rebounds.

With the loss, Washington drops to 7-6 (1-4 EPC) and will look to bounce back on Friday when it hosts Farmville Central.