Panthers overcome missed opportunities, beat Columbia

Published 11:12 pm Monday, December 5, 2016

PINETOWN — Northside outscored Columbia 15-5 in the fourth quarter to earn a 57-47 win on Monday. It was a one-possession game, 42-39, before a late third-quarter run bled into the fourth quarter, and the Panthers ran away.

“I think we started taking better shots,” Panthers coach Mike Proctor said. “I think we weren’t so selfish. I think we moved the ball and made the extra pass. Rashod (Smith) had a really good fourth quarter, and I think our bigs got open and were ready for him.

“We didn’t play well all night, but I think we had some good spots in the fourth quarter.”

The Panthers led for the majority of the game, but never quite pulled away until the fourth. They got to the free-throw line early and often. After taking an early 5-3 lead, they drew Wildcat fouls on four of their next five possessions.

However, in that span, they only converted on 4-of-8 opportunities at the charity stripe. Missing easy chances like those prevented Northside from creating separation until late in the game.

Nevertheless, they were able to scrape together a win. The same formula that helped them beat Washington on Friday proved fruitful against Columbia. Northside is leaning heavily on its forwards this year after graduating guards Jabari Ashe and Ikeem Greene.

The Panther bigs were able to shoulder the load. Bryson Radcliffe scored 20 points, and Atia Shamseldin poured in 13 more. Even so, Proctor sees some room for improvement in the post.

“Bryson is a good inside post player, but sometimes he’s not the biggest jumper. Those guys can jump,” Proctor said. “So, I think he needed to use his pump fake a little more. I think he didn’t do that. He missed some shots he usually makes. Usually he’s a little more solid around the basket than he was tonight. He did come through for us tonight, and made some big shots.”

While Northside may experience a bit of a drop off in scoring at the guard positions, Smith showed glimpses of brilliance when it comes to setting up others. Radcliffe was a threat in the paint almost immediately. He grabbed a board and put it back, then took a no-look pass from Smith for an easy layup that gave the Panthers a 12-5 lead in the first.

Northside was already in the bonus with 1:54 left in the first, but was only able to take a 15-8 lead after the first eight minutes.

Smith knocked down a 3-pointer — Northside’s only long-range basket of the game — early in the second quarter. It gave his side a 25-16 lead, but Columbia wouldn’t let its deficit go beyond nine points. The Wildcats had momentum at halftime, and used an 8-0 run between the end of the second and start of the third to tie the game at 28-28.

Nasseim Basnight and Trevon Spencer provided a quick Wildcat spurt that gave them a 35-32 lead in the third period. Spencer finished with a game-best 24 points for Columbia.

“That’s what we talked about after the game,” Proctor said. “If we had made some of the layups that we missed in the first quarter, and made some of our foul shots, I feel like we could have stretched the lead and it wouldn’t have been as close down to road. I think we missed way too many layups and way too many foul shots.”

Shamseldin single handedly took the lead back with three consecutive layups. Radcliffe and James Barrow each had a pair of buckets in the fourth as the Panthers were finally able to pull away.