Washington, Northside both seeking consistency

Published 6:24 pm Sunday, December 3, 2017

PINETOWN — Washington never trailed at Northside Friday evening as it earned a 39-22 win to sweep its series with the Lady Panthers. The Lady Pack (3-3) and Northside (1-2) have both enjoyed a degree of success early on in the season, but both know consistency is the next attribute they need to pursue.

The visiting Lady Pack notched the first five points thanks to easy baskets by Daria Jones and Cyntavea Blackledge. A 3-pointer from Kizoria Redmond late in the first quarter gave Washington a 15-3 lead at the end of the first.

Northside only had one made field goal until Ke’Shayla Arthur grabbed a rebound and put it back with 6:12 left in the second quarter. She potted six points to spur a 10-2 rally that cut the Lady Panthers’ deficit to 19-13.

“I was telling them to pressure the ball. We’re trying to get them in hot spots on the floor,” Northside coach Michelle Leathers said of her team’s swarming defense. “That’s the basic thing we’re trying to do. Just pick it up on defense.”

The surge from the home side began with high-pressure defense. The Lady Panthers suffocated Washington often, forcing turnovers, but the difference was them converting on easy opportunities.

“I expect for them to make layups because that’s what we practice every single day,” said Leathers, whose club was playing its third game in as many days. “They lose focus.”

Leathers believes it boils down to focus. She said building mental toughness will help finish those easy opportunities. Time is working against the Lady Panthers. They got a break over the weekend and will be able to get on the practice floor on Monday after starting the season with three games in three days.

They’ll have to work quickly, though, as they head to Riverside on Friday to begin 1-A Coastal Conference play.

Abby Mooring pushes the ball down the court.

Washington was also streaky during the Friday-night clash. The Lady Pack let Northside come within two possessions in the first half and was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. While its offense sputtered for stretches, its early lead and steady defense proved enough to solidify the win.

“We were trying to get some younger girls in there and get them some experience. I think we gave them stuff that was a little complicated,” Washington coach Ralph Biggs said of the late-game struggles. “We missed some good shots. I guess we’re lucky that (Northside) only scored four in the fourth quarter.”

As for Northside’s second-quarter run, Biggs said Washington was able to bounce back once his more experienced players checked into the game. He said they noticed the way Northside was driving the baseline and were able to adjust.

Washington hosts former 2-A Eastern Plains Conference rival North Pitt on Wednesday. The Lady Pack will look to build some momentum before opening 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference action on Dec. 12.