GAUGING IMPROVEMENT: Northside, First Flight meet for first time since season opener
Published 4:22 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016
PINETOWN — Northside has been on a roll as of late. After a four-game skid that started during its Christmas tournament and lasted into the New Year, the Panthers are winners of their last two games. They handled Lejeune and Southside to even their 1-A Coastal Plains record to 3-3 and gain some footing in the rankings.
Now Northside gets a chance to see how far it has come since the start of the season. The Panthers traveled to First Flight to open their campaign back on Dec. 1. The result was an 84-51 walloping at the hands of the hosting Nighthawks.
Kicking off the season against a strong 2-A opponent like First Flight is always a challenge. That was compounded by not having many returning starters.
“I think I only had two guys returning with any playing experience the first time we played them,” coach Mike Proctor said. “I kept telling those junior varsity guys that it was a different speed. It’s not JV speed. And we played a varsity team that’s a really fast varsity team to start with.
“I don’t think we were at all prepared for the transition game. They beat us a whole lot of times in transition and made a lot of buckets. When they missed buckets, they got rebounds and put it back in.”
First Flight had 22 offensive rebounds in the game. Northside had 23 in its own defensive end of the court. All in all, the Panthers were outrebounded 52-36.
Northside — especially the newer faces on the varsity squad — is more acclimated to the speed of the game now. They’ve played East Carteret and Terra Ceia squads that push the tempo in a similar fashion.
The boys also have a better idea of what the Nighthawks will try to do, too. First Flight had a lot of success from long range when the two sides met in Kill Devil Hills. Reese Jones knocked down five 3-pointers and the Nighthawks were a combined 15-of-43 from behind the arc.
“They do like to penetrate and kick for shots,” Proctor said, comparing First Flight to rival Southside. “They like to shoot a lot more 3’s than anybody we play other than East Carteret. They like to spot up and shoot, so we’re going to have to run them off the line.”
Northside will also be aided by the improvement of its forward corps. Atia Shamseldin and Bryson Radcliffe are two players that have come a long way since the beginning of the season. Not only will they help with the aforementioned battle on the glass, but they can also chip in with scoring.
The Panthers still build around guards Ikeem Greene and Jabari Ashe. Some scoring from the forwards can help take some pressure off them, though.
“We’re still guard oriented,” Proctor said. “That’s what we’re better at. I think Bryson and Atia have helped a lot. I think it’s taken a lot of pressure off of (Greene and Ashe) for scoring and shooting.”
Win or lose, this contest is a chance for the Panthers to gauge their improvement thus far.
“I want to see them playing hard, I want to see them sharing the ball like they did (against Southside). Hopefully we can be on the game like we were against Southside,” Proctor said. “I thought we played really well. I want to play really tough defensively.”
The Panthers and Nighthawks are scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.