Panthers open season by drubbing Pam Pack

Published 12:05 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

Northside went into halftime at Washington leading by eight, 33-25. The Pam Pack had the edge in size and home-field advantage, but the Panthers knew it would simply take some time to settle in during their season opener.

After the two sides traded baskets early in the second half, Northside erupted on a 15-2 run to take firm control in an 81-47 romping of the hosting Pam Pack. The Panthers set the bar high to begin the year, and coach Mike Proctor doesn’t mind.

“We’ve got some starters back from last year. I think we felt like we were going to come out and just do our thing,” Proctor said. “I think we realized that we’ve got to play the game. I think, after the first half, we came out and played a really strong second half.

“We want to shoot a lot of shots. We want to play fast because we can shoot really well, so we want to get a lot of shots off. In the first half, I think we went down and were just shooting. … I think we started making an extra pass. That got us wide open and got us better looks.”

Washington, on the other hand, is left still searching for its first win of the year. The loss marks the fifth in a row to start the season and is the second time this week it’s conceded over 80 points. The Pam Pack struggled to find an answer for Northside’s run-and-gun style. Highlight reel plays throughout the game effectively removed the home-court advantage.

“In the second half, (Northside) adjusted to what we were doing and they raised their level. We didn’t,” Washington coach Ralph Biggs said. “That’s what caught up with us. … Getting embarrassed isn’t the best things. Sometimes you’ve got to be humbled and eat your humble pie, as they say.

“Then you can realize, ‘I’ve got to bear down’ and do what really works and learn what’s being taught.”

Northside took control of every facet of the game in the third quarter. Washington was finding success by feeding Thomas Edwards in the post, but the Panthers quickly adjusted. They were able to spread the court as Braeden Cooper knocked down a trio of 3-pointers in the period while Bryson Radcliffe and Parker Boyd went to work down low.

The Panthers scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter. Guards Rashod Smith and Johnathan Clark displayed their chemistry in the way they punctuated the surge. Smith stole the ball, burst down the left side of the court, and lobbed it up for a two-handed alley-oop by Clark.

That pushed the visitors’ lead to 69-37. Northside stayed hot from the perimeter as Smith and Cooper each knocked down treys. Alex Daleo joined the party with a 3-pointer from the wing that put the Panthers over the 80-point plateau.

Ja’quez Ruffin got things going with a layup right off of the opening tip. A pair of free throws from Jirah Woolard gave Washington a 4-2 lead, but the Panthers responded quickly with an 8-2 run. They never looked back.

Smith, who scored Northside’s first six, finished with 23 points and 12 assists. Cooper (20), Clark (18) and Radcliffe (13) all finished in double digits, too.

Ruffin led Washington with 10. The Pam Pack outscored Northside in the second, 15-13, but was overwhelmed in the other three quarters. Biggs hopes the lopsided loss will ignite a fire under his team for Friday’s rematch in Pinetown.

“I think they’re going to show up with some fire,” he said. “We’re going to get in (Thursday), do a little shooting around and work on some things. I think the fire will be back. Everybody is feeling a little down and a little hurt.”