Grading Out: Local standouts ready for final push

Published 7:52 pm Monday, February 5, 2018

The final week of the basketball regular season has arrived. The penultimate week was filled with close calls for Washington’s teams and a two-game set between Beaufort County rivals Northside and Southside.

The Lady Panthers and Lady Seahawks split their two-game series, leaving each with plans to pick up some steam in this final week. Northside’s boys are on the right track as they entered their final three games having won nine in a row.

The Lady Pack has a shot at finishing third in the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference, but the final push won’t be easy. The Pam Pack, on the other hand, only has two more chances to earn a conference win.



Jonathan Clark continues to take advantage of all his shots, even as Northside’s offense strives to become more balanced. Clark’s synergy with fellow guard Rashod Smith was, as usual, at its peak as the Panthers won their seventh, eighth and ninth games in a row last week.

Clark had one of the highlights in Friday’s win over Southside. It had been over a week since he and the Panthers played in front of their home crowd. He couldn’t quite get the ball over the rim for a dunk, but recovered and completed a four-point play.

Symone Ruffin out runs Northside’s defense on Friday night.


Senior Symone Ruffin took over Friday at Northside. The Lady Seahawks saw their bid for third place in the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference slip away thanks to a string of losses, but Ruffin scored 28 on 68-percent shooting to upend the Lady Panthers and put Southside back on track.

To add to that, Ruffin notched eight steals and five rebounds. Fellow senior Michaela Dixon had a double-double with a dozen points and 13 rebounds.



It was Rashod Smith’s 3-pointer in the first quarter against Southside that seemed to bust open the flood gates. Appropriately, he capped off the dominance by nailing a 3 at the third-period buzzer to give Northside the advantage it needed for a running clock.

On the front end of the week, Smith scored a game-best 29 points at Southside. He was instrumental in keeping the Seahawks at arm’s reach as they tried to rally in the first meeting.



Washington capped off a string of three-straight wins last week when it hosted South Lenoir. The Lady Pack came out with a 51-46 victory, but had its streak snapped at North Lenoir the next day.

Cyntavia Blackledge’s sharpshooting has proven to be an asset coming down the stretch. She had 10 points, which included a pair of 3-pointers, in the loss to the Lady Hawks. Washington still has a shot to finish in third place as it wraps up the regular season this week with Kinston and West Craven.



Southside gave Northside everything it had when the two rivals met last Monday in Chocowinity. Demetrius Ebron scored a team-best 20 points to help bring the Seahawks within striking distance of the Panthers, but they couldn’t complete the comeback.

Then, in Friday’s series finale between the two, Ebron did what he could to try to shoot Southside out of its slump. He had the majority of the Seahawks’ makes from long range.