TO THE LIMIT: Panthers hang with top-ranked Mariners
Published 11:42 pm Friday, January 29, 2016
PINETOWN — Northside took it to reigning 1-A state champion and top-ranked East Carteret in a 76-71 loss on Friday night. The Mariners looked poised to run away with the game on a few occasions, but the Panther hung right with them through and through.
East Carteret owned a nine-point lead late in the fourth quarter. James Barrow got to the free throw line and sank both attempts and Jabari Ashe followed with a 3-pointer to cut the Mariners’ lead to 73-69. Barrow brought his side closer to evening it with another successful trip to the charity stripe. The crowd was buzzing as Northside pulled within two points, 73-71.
The Mariners were able to put the game away with a few free throws, but Northside more than proved what its made of with its performance against arguably the best 1-A squad in the east.
“I think we’re playing with a lot of heart. I think we’re playing better as a team,” Panthers coach Mike Proctor said. “We just played with a lot of will. We played a really good ball game. … I think we really dug down and I told them that was what I was more proud of than anything.”
Ikeem Greene leveled the game at 7-7 in the first quarter when he caught an inbound pass on the wing and knocked down a trey. Greene — usually a threat to score inside and from long range — was limited. He was playing through a shoulder injury that limited his ball handling, which, in turn, stopped him from driving the lane as much as he may have liked. It may have also played a role in that being his only made 3-pointer of the contest.
Immediately after he knotted things up, Da’Shaun Johnson got a dunk on the other end, but that wasn’t all. He got a technical foul for hanging on the rim, which prevented the Mariners from building too much momentum off of it. Greene hit a free throw and Barrow got a floater on the ensuing possession to put the Panthers on top again.
Northside had a 21-20 lead after the first period. Bryson Radcliffe hit a 3 at the beginning of the second, but East Carteret responded with a 10-0 run to take a lead it wouldn’t surrender for the rest of the game. The Panthers tied it at 36 apiece when Jabari Ashe sank a 3 with 23 seconds left in the half, but the home side couldn’t get over the hump.
Trevor Willis heated up from 3-point range in the third to give the Mariners some breathing room. He hit consecutive shots from the perimeter to put his team up 48-39. He later capped off a quick offensive burst with another trey that gave East Carteret a 54-40 lead.
Northside didn’t back down. A quick 9-0 run made it a two-possession game again, but the Mariners had two successful trips to the free-throw line to end the third with a 58-49 lead.
They still couldn’t keep the Panthers down, though. Atia Shamseldin got quick baskets down low, but they were sandwiched between yet another trey from Willis. Greene later made two free throws and got a steal on the other end, which he converted into a fast-break layup.
“We talk about playing every possession. Don’t worry about the clock, just play every possession,” Proctor said. “On offense, let’s get good shots. On defense, let’s get a stop. I’m hoping that’s sinking in because they’re kind of young. There’s not a 14-point play, so let’s just play every possession.”
It cut the visitors’ lead to 69-64, but Northside couldn’t complete the comeback.
The Panthers hope to build on this impressive showing Tuesday when they host another top team in Jones Senior. They’re in the home stretch of the season and will need a win to make a push for a third-place spot that is very much within reach.