Adebayo, Northside knock off Gates County, advance to Round 3

Published 12:21 am Tuesday, March 3, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS SHOW STOPPER: Northside center Edrice Adebayo goes up for a layup in traffic in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s second round game over Gates County.

SHOW STOPPER: Northside center Edrice Adebayo goes up for a layup in traffic in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s second round game over Gates County.

GATESVILLE — It was a kind of moment that led one fan to utter the word “Jordan.” Another spoke of “Chamberlain.” Even North Carolina assistant coach Steve Robinson put down his notes and looked on in awe.

Down one point with a little more than five minutes remaining in the contest, Northside’s Edrice Adebayo picked a pass off in transition and made a break down the court — only one defender between him and two points. Once in the key, the 6-foot-9 center known as “Bam” took two steps, leaped just a couple inches past the charity stripe and glided through the air for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, the Panthers’ big man threw down a ferocious, one-handed, sure to be career-defining dunk that silenced the home crowd and altered the course of the game entirely.

“I think when he threw that one down it got the team pumped up and picked up our intensity a little bit. It was the biggest play of the game,” said head coach Mike Proctor.

Following the slam, the Panthers went on to score eight unanswered points en route to a 63-53-road win over Gates County in Round 2 of the NCHSAA 1-A state tournament, taking another step towards Fayetteville.

The No. 3-seeded Red Barons, entering to with a 21-3 record, its best mark in years, were victors of the lackluster Coastal 10 Conference, which produced just four teams with records above the .500 mark.

Adebayo’s game-high 38 points, 26 rebounds and two blocks proved to be the difference in a sloppy back-and-forth contest that neither team, Bam aside, seemed too interested in winning.

“We played terrible tonight,” Proctor said. “We couldn’t make foul shots, we couldn’t make layups, we kept throwing the ball away, but when it’s all said and done, we live to fight another day. That’s what the playoffs are all about.”

The win earns Northside a meeting with neighboring Riverside in the third round of the state playoffs Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Knights are coming off a one-point, overtime victory over the Coastal Plains Conference runner-up, Pamlico County, in the second round.

Spending most of conference play living and dying by the backcourt, the Panthers guards were unable to find a rhythm early on, throwing up errant passes in transition and forcing feeds inside. Adebayo’s 10 points were all Northside could muster in the first quarter, while Red Baron freshman Dontrell Watford and senior Daniel Carlos lit it up from the inside, out.

For 32 minutes, Carlos made intelligent passes and, when left open, made the Panthers’ defenders pay from range. He finished with a team-high 20 points.

But in the second quarter, despite the continuance of the backcourt’s struggles, Adebayo took over, adding another 11 points to his total and completely controlled the boards.

“Every night is Bam’s night,” Proctor said. “We weren’t playing very well and I think we went back into our shell, tensed up a little bit, and that’s when I think Bam stepped up and took over the game. We weren’t really helping him as much as we should have.”

A pair of threes by Carlos and some gritty play from the Red Baron bigs kept the host in the game in the third quarter, but a near flawless performance from Adebayo and Ikeem Greene, the first of Proctor’s guards to “come out of his shell,” propelled the Panthers to a statement win.

Greene finished with 15 points and five rebounds.

With the win, Northside improves to 19-4 heading into its showdown with Riverside.