Lady Panthers suffocate Jones Senior

Published 11:22 pm Monday, February 12, 2018

PINETOWN — Jones Senior scored the last 10 points of Monday’s 1-A Coastal Plains Conference tournament opener. Thanks to high-pressure defense, though, Northside was more than capable of closing out a 42-28 win to advance to Wednesday’s second round.

The Lady Panthers’ defense held their visitors to just seven points in the first half. Their trap forced plenty of turnovers, which fuelled transition opportunities. Meanwhile, the likes of Brooklyn Hudnell and Abby Mooring were able to use their range to spread the floor.

Coach Michelle Leathers said the defensive approach was effective because of how her squad — namely the younger players — were able to pick up the system.

“We want to stay playing aggressive. We’re not going to change our game,” she said. “It’s easy to run it with the younger girls. They do it well in practice. (Freshman Kat Slade) is learning. She does it real well with her speed.”

The younger Lady Panthers also excelled on offense. Seniors Brooklyn Hudnell and Mooring led the charge while sophomore Ke’Shayla Arthur provided plenty of secondary scoring. Freshman forward Katie Godley also had a pair of baskets in the second quarter to help Northside to a 32-10 lead halfway through.

It was a product of a fluid offense. Northside’s chemistry has come far this season, as evident by the way the Lady Panthers were able to move the ball in their half-court offense.

“It’s come a long way. I always think back to the Washington game. We didn’t have the chemistry,” Leathers said. Northside lost its season opener at Washington, 41-23. “I got going with my rotation. We’ve got that chemistry.

“I keep telling (Mooring) to play her game. I know she can play. She’s a senior, so she’s supposed to start us off.”

Arthur had Northside’s first two buckets coming out of the break. Freshman Akleelah Moore found Mooring wide open for a mid-range make to more than triple up on the Lady Trojans, 38-13, midway through the fourth.

Mooring added a 3-pointer to push the lead to 42-18. That allowed Northside to field some of its less experienced players and coast until the final buzzer.

At 11-8 and with a third-place finish in the CPC, the Lady Panthers are a fringe team for the playoffs. They’re hoping to grow a little bit more each time they hit the court this week.

“We’re just looking to keep growing. Every game is about growth,” Leathers said. “That’s what we’re looking for — to continue to find a win.”

That will be tough as Northside takes on a juggernaut in Pamlico County in the second round on Wednesday.