Panthers pounce on Seahawks

Published 12:41 am Tuesday, December 19, 2017

PINETOWN — Northside and Southside went tit-for-tat for about six minutes in the first quarter of Monday’s tournament opener. Then the Panthers made a defensive adjustment that helped them run away with the game.

PHOTOS: Northside Holiday Tournament, Day 1

There were six lead changes in the early goings of the game. The Panthers created some separation late in the first when Braeden Cooper found his stroke from 3-point range. The senior guard, who finished with 23 points in the 103-58 win, hit a pair from beyond the arc to fuel a 9-2 run to end the quarter.

“We’ve made some adjustments a couple of games ago. I think we’re starting to learn it,” Northside coach Mike Proctor said. “We’re doing different things defensively. I think that showed tonight. … I think that the last two games, we’ve played really well defensively.”

Much of the offense was just as Northside had drawn it up. Southside knew it was coming, but couldn’t stop it.

“We have some plays,” Proctor said. “We can get Rashod (Smith) off of a pick-and-roll. If they don’t pick Rashod up, he goes to the basket. If they do pick him up, Braeden should be open in the corner. … He can really shoot it.”

Southside coach Sean White added: “We had practiced against Cooper in the corner shooting his shots. We had a break down and he’s getting open shots. We’ve got to adjust. We’ve got to play better on defense.”

Southside senior guard Demetrius Ebron takes on Panther Rashod Smith.

Northside had the first five made field goals in the second as it extended its lead to 31-13. The Panthers had found their rhythm, allowing them to take a stranglehold of the game. Smith, the team’s sophomore phenom, scored 15 of his 30 points in the second. He also assisted on 14 baskets for a double-double.

Southside, trailing 55-20 at halftime, came out firing in the third quarter. Will Warren and Jaleel Coffey heated up from long range. Defensively, though, the Seahawks struggled to keep up with the Panthers.

“We can’t run with them. We’ve got to get back on defense,” White said. “We came out in the second half and did a little bit better.”

It only got tougher to keep up once the fourth quarter rolled around. The Panthers, leading 82-48 going into the final eight minutes, were able to cycle in players deep off their bench.

The home crowd was already pleased with the performance it was witnessing. It exploded when senior Alex Daleo knocked down consecutive 3s off the backboard. He may not get many minutes, but Daleo said he’s quite confident when given even a little space on the perimeter.

“We just put him in. He’s shooting them up, and they fell,” Proctor said. “What can I say? Things seemed to go our way. It was fun. The crowd had fun. It’s the first year he’s played and he doesn’t play a lot. He went in and got some wide-open looks.”

A put-back layup by Shikeem Carter pushed Northside over the 100-point plateau, and Daleo added another late trey for good measure.

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Northside will play Plymouth for the tournament title on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Southside will play Washington for third place beforehand.