Lady Panthers knock off Southside

Published 2:46 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2018

CHOCOWINITY — The first run helped establish position, but the second left no doubt who would win.

Northside lost an early double-digit advantage, but came back with a vengeance in a 55-37 win over Southside Monday. The Lady Panthers used strong defense and a balanced scoring attack to pick up the victory, blowing the game open in the second half.

“We wanted to push the ball and play hard on defense,” Northside coach Michelle Leathers said. “We hadn’t practiced in a while, but we were able to establish our tempo and get into the flow of the game.”

The Lady Panthers had six players score in a 12-2 run to start the game, punctuated by a Jessica Foster 3-pointer. The Lady Seahawks would respond with 11 unanswered, including seven from Symone Ruffin and ending with Kejasia Midgette’s basket to put Southside ahead 13-12 early in the second.

Southside senior Symone Ruffin hoists up a shot earlier this season.

Prentiss Thomas would take over from there, going on a personal 6-0 run to put the Lady Panthers back on top. Thomas would score a team-high 12 points off the bench. Her spurt gave Northside a lead it would never relinquish as the team took a 26-19 advantage into halftime.

“Coach told us we were representing her and our parents, so we needed to react better and play how we’re able to play,” Thomas said.

The momentum carried into the second half as Northside never allowed Southside to get within seven. The Lady Panthers’ defense forced 31 turnovers and allowed 20.4 percent shooting while running its lead to 22 midway through the fourth.

Southside coach Milton Ruffin said the team simply didn’t play its game.

“I can’t take away anything from Northside,” Ruffin said. “They played a phenomenal game, while we didn’t play to the level we’re capable of. We just have to get ready for (Williamston) Riverside Tuesday.”

Katie Godley and Gabby Slade had 10 each for Northside. For the Lady Seahawks, Ruffin scored a game-high 19.

The home-standing Lady Seahawks had won three of their last four 1-A Coastal Plains Conference games. The lone loss in that run came to powerhouse Pamlico County. Monday’s home shortcoming to their Beaufort County rival puts the two in a battle for third place behind the Lady Hurricanes and Riverside.

Each team will look to create some separation when they meet again Friday in Pinetown. Prior to that, Southside traveled to Riverside and Northside visited Tarboro on Tuesday.