Grading Out: Northside tournament showcases superstars

Published 3:20 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Northside Holiday Tournament showed off the best basketball players Beaufort County has to offer. Northside and Plymouth flexed their muscles in dominant showings on the first day, setting themselves up for a championship showdown on Wednesday.

The Vikings emerged with the tournament championship after running away in the fourth quarter of a competitive game with the Panthers. It was a good way to cap off two days of fun basketball.

Southside’s girls will hit the floor this week as they compete in South Creek’s Christmas tournament. Others will return to action on Jan. 2.

Here are the standouts from this week:



Rashod Smith took over when the Panthers and Southside closed out the first day of the tournament. Smith posted a double-double (30 points, 14 assists) in the rout. Per usual, the Northside sophomore excelled in creating opportunities for others.

Smith’s shooting was a bit streakier in the championship-game loss to the Vikings. Even so, he finished the game with 24 points. He and the Panthers will look back to get in the win column against Tarboro on Jan. 2.



Ja’quez Ruffin’s 14 points against Southside did more than help Washington finish third in the Northside Holiday Tournament. It helped lead the Pam Pack to its first win of the season. Coach Ralph Biggs said that victory took a load off of him, Ruffin and the rest of the Pam Pack.

Washington will need to play the kind of free, low-pressure game it played against the Seahawks. The Pam Pack gets Kinston in its first home game of 2018. The entire 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference will be tough sledding.



Northside senior Braeden Cooper was one of the beneficiaries of Rashod Smith’s playmaking all last week. Cooper, a three-year starter for the Panthers, has more than excelled as a shooter.

Cooper poured in 23 points in the win over Southside. He was as effective from long range as he was driving the lane. Then, against Plymouth, he knocked down four corner 3-pointers. His ability to shoot the ball has led to Northside drawing up plays for him.



Even though Southside lost both of its tournament games, Will Warren did all he could to help the Seahawks stay afloat. There were stretches where spectators would think to themselves, “Is he the best player on this team?”

Of course, that’s a debate for another day. Warren helped give Southside an inside presence. He produced second-chance opportunities with his work on the offensive glass. He also spread the floor with his 3-point shooting.