LEARNING CURVE: Young Panthers, Lady Seahawks eliminated in first round
Published 4:08 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Getting to the state playoffs is no easy task. Only the 64 best teams from each classification — just 32 from the east — earn a spot each postseason. Getting seeded is an even more impressive achievement for young groups like Northside’s boys and Southside’s girls.
Both teams made it to the playoffs, but were knocked off in the first round on Tuesday. The No. 30 Panthers hit the road and were defeated by No. 3 Trask, 75-39. The game was tied at 15 apiece after the first quarter, but Trask continuously built on its lead throughout the latter three periods.
Northside wasn’t able to get its typical output from go-to players like Ikeem Greene and Jabari Ashe. Coach Mike Proctor said there wasn’t quite anything special about Trask’s man-to-man coverage, but that the Titans do what they do very well.
“We sort of let it slip away. It’s been the story of our year,” Proctor said. “We just had a hard time (making plays). Ikeem was trying and Jabari was trying and we just couldn’t seem to make a play.”
The lopsided loss wasn’t an ideal way to end the season, but it does yield valuable experience. Hitting the road to take on the east’s second-best club is no walk in the park. The seven juniors and sophomore Bryson Radcliffe can take this and use it as something to build on come next season.
“We’re young and no body has much varsity experience. I’m not saying they folded under pressure,” Proctor said. “I hope it was good for them. (Trask) was real athletic, they were quick and they were strong.
“I talked to them after the game and we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to work on quickness and just work on our basketball skills. I feel like they realize that and they can take that with them into the summer and fall to get ready for next year.”
The Lady Seahawks found themselves in a similar situation. They earned the 30th seed, putting them on the road at No. 3 Pamlico County. The Lady Hurricanes ousted Southside 66-13.
Pamlico County vastly outshot its visitors, putting up 71 balls to the hoop to Southside’s 23. The Lady Hurricanes stole the ball away 29 times to stifle the Lady Seahawks’ offense while also fueling their own.
Making it to the promised land that is the postseason was an incredible feat for the Lady Seahawks, who are even younger than the aforementioned Panthers. Eleven of the team’s 15 players are sophomores. They graduate forward and captain Arleyah Cobb, but will have another captain in Precious Gaynor returning for her senior year to lead the way.
“Making the playoffs was a big thing for our girls. I told the girls that a lot of teams didn’t make it in,” Southside coach Milton Ruffin said. “Girls play more aggressive in the state playoffs. We have that experience under our belt and we can take it into the playoffs next season.”
That plethora of youth is why the Lady Seahawks weren’t too concerned with wins and losses. This campaign was all about building for the future.
“The girls have come a long way,” Ruffin said. “They went out there and they worked hard. That’s one thing I was really proud of. It wasn’t all about the wins for us this year. It’s about how we play the game and getting better day by day.”
What may have been an upsetting evening for two of Beaufort County’s youngest basketball teams should be the foundation for more success months down the road.