Rested, recovered Lady Panthers thrash Columbia

Published 12:26 am Friday, January 12, 2018

PINETOWN — Northside was unlike so many other teams across the region. The Lady Panthers hadn’t been together on the court since a 47-37 win over Tarboro. They needed the time off, though, as they hoped to get junior guard Gabby Slade back at 100-percent health.

Slade and the Lady Panthers sputtered at times Thursday against Columbia, but hit their stride and used a consistent defensive effort to win, 60-29. Head coach Michelle Leathers turned to the bench often. It was likely a result of the time away hampering the team’s conditioning, but it also helped everyone take advantage of the non-conference contest by getting their legs under of them.

“It makes it easier. We had been off since the last game, so it gave everyone a chance to feel the ball,” Leathers said. “This gave us the chance to work on things before (playing Pamlico County on Friday).”

Sophomore Ke’shayla Arthur punctuated an 8-0 Northside run to begin the game. Her transition basket late in the first sparked a run of nine unanswered that gave the Lady Panthers a 21-6 lead more than halfway through the second period.

On top of getting offensive contributions from the bench, Northside used its high-pressure defense to Columbia without a point for the first 4:40 of the second quarter. It allowed it to take control of the game despite its offense struggling midway through the period.

“Columbia was being aggressive,” Leathers said. “We got a feel for the game. … Ke’shayla at the top, I’m a big believer of getting the ball to the sidelines. That’s your friend. That person at the top starts it. We had Abby (Mooring) and Brooklyn (Hudnell) at the sides.”

Northside led 25-13 at halftime, but the visiting Lady Wildcats were able to trim the deficit to single digits at the free-throw line early in the third. Arthur and fellow sophomore Prentiss Thomas handled the lion’s share of the offense. Senior guard Mooring turned a steal into a layup near the end of the third to extend the Lady Panthers’ advantage to 41-22 heading into the final eight minutes.

Six different Northside players scored in the fourth. The defense held Columbia without a made basket as it sealed the deal.