Three county teams face hard-hitting first round

Published 2:42 pm Monday, February 23, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS TRUDGE FORWARD: Northside’s Reggie Slade and Southside’s Donshae Miller will try to lead their respective teams to the second round. Both, however, are greeted with tough Round 1 matchups.

TRUDGE FORWARD: Northside’s Reggie Slade and Southside’s Donshae Miller will try to lead their respective teams to the second round. Both, however, are greeted with tough Round 1 matchups.

The conclusion of the 2014-2015 high school basketball regular season means only those worthy of playoff hoops remain. For Beaufort County, three teams have earned seeds in the 64-team, NCHSAA-sanctioned brackets that kick off tomorrow.

For the No. 14-seeded Northside boys, it’s been a season defined by winning basketball paired with an inability to take that next step in the Coastal Plains Conference, a 1-A table that’s become one of the more competitive in North Carolina over the last few years. Junior Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and the Panthers boast an impressive 17-4 record, marking the second-consecutive season Northside enters the playoffs with four losses. It’s the end product of an experienced coach meeting a once-in-a-decade kind of talent. But unfortunately for the Panthers, that formula isn’t guaranteed playoff success, especially against pesky Coastal Plains foes responsible for the team’s four losses, foes they’re destined to run into if they advance.

One of those losses can be attributed to Southside, a team that enters the playoffs with a No. 22 seed and a 13-7 record. Despite one of the best starts in years, the Seahawks had to face a virtual murderers’ row to finish the regular season, suffering charisma-crushing losses to Pamlico County, Northside and East Carteret, the No. 1 seed and defending state runner-up. In the season finale, the Seahawks, after leading for most of the contest on the road, lost the shootout in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. They were minutes that would ultimately cost them a first-round home game.

But above all else, the Northside girls’ were the biggest surprise of the weekend, their 7-12 record earning them one of the final at-large bids to the tournament and subsequently extending the careers of three seniors. Garnering the No. 31 seed, the Panthers finished fifth in the Coastal Plains Conference behind powerhouse Pamlico County, Lejeune, Jones Senior and East Carteret. It was a back-and-forth season for head coach Michelle Leather’s team, which has teetered between cohesive and inconsistent from game to game.



PINETOWN — Last season, it was No. 14-seeded Southside that pulled off a surprising road upset over No. 3-seeded Northampton in the first round of the playoffs. Now, rival Northside will look to do the same against a Jaguars team that, unlike last season, has been a middle-of-the-pack threat in the Two Rivers Conference, which Riverside comfortably ran away with this year.

However, the Jaguars went through a bit of an offensive epiphany to finish the season, winning four of their last five games and scoring 70-plus points in each contest.

Despite entering with a pedestrian 10-14 record, Northampton has height across the board and could frustrate the Panthers in the paint. Adebayo’s 6-foot-9 frame aside, Northside’s next tallest starter tops out at about 6-foot-1, that being shooting guard Dalton Etheridge, while head coach Jonathan White’s roster comes stocked with three players taller than 6-4.

But head coach Mike Proctor is no stranger to opposing height. By spreading the floor, focusing on the mid-range game and working it down low to Adebayo when needed, the Panthers should come out of the first round unscathed.



BAYBORO — It’s only fitting that two Coastal Plains Conference rivals, connected by a 30-mile stretch of Highway 33 asphalt, meet in what should be the most fashionable first round matchup of the bracket. You can’t find another pair of Round 1 opponents more familiar with each other in the 1-A bracket than these two teams.

The Hurricanes come armed with a hit-you-in-the-mouth style of basketball and a loud fan base that, home or away, can audibly devour a gymnasium. They also bring one of the conference’s most dynamic pure scorers to the table in Josiah Simmons, who averages about 15 points, five rebounds and three assists per game. Known as a slow starter, Simmons can take a game over at will and did so in the second half of Southside and Pamlico’s Feb. 9 matchup, finishing with 18 points. All five starters finished in double figures that day, meaning head coach Sean White will be unable to have his defenders collapse on one, even two offensive threats.

For Southside, however, Donshae Miller and Rashaun Moore are a constant in the dribble-drive scheme. This game will be won in the frontcourt, where Phillip Smith and Donshae Tatum will need to put the last week of the regular season behind them, keep the Hurricanes off the boards and, most importantly, find the bottom of the net.



TIMBERLAKE — Roxboro Community vaunts an intimidating 25-3 record, one that has been constructed from gritty defensive play and the nearly unmatched offensive production from freshman Elana Ingram, who is quickly becoming the best player in program history, averaging around 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and five steals a game.

Many high school girls’ basketball teams today employ a full- or half-court press to stifle opponent’s transition game, but only a select few can claim to have it down to a science. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Roxboro Community is one of the teams.

The Bulldogs have forced nearly 300 turnovers this season, most coming in transition and resulting in baskets on the other end. With really only one consistent ball handler in point guard Alex Adams, Northside will need to spread the floor with crisp outlet passing.

But a victory for the Panthers is certainly not impossible. The Bulldogs won a North Central Conference with five sub-.500 teams, collecting lopsided wins fairly easily and piecing together a 14-game win streak to finish the season. History is also not on the home team’s side, having never won a playoff game. If Northside’s Adams and Kelsey Lang can bring their A-game, it should be a lot closer of a matchup than the seeding may forecast.

Tomorrow’s game will be played at Helena Gym at Helena Elementary School in the southern end of Person County.