Grading Out: Beaufort County basketball concludes

Published 5:43 pm Saturday, February 24, 2018

Northside’s boys and Washington’s girls each made it to the second round of the NCHSAA basketball playoffs. Both, however, were eliminated on Thursday, which marked the end of Beaufort County’s basketball season.

Each teams stars did all they could in leading their respective teams that far. Even those that were sent packing in the first round — Northside and Southside’s girls — had strong showings in their postseason appearances.

So, before the area moves on to baseball, softball and the rest of the spring season, let’s take one last look at the standouts on the hardwood.



Only a sophomore, Rashod Smith had as good a postseason showing as anyone in Beaufort County. The young point guard put on a show in front of the Panthers’ fans in a comfortable first-round win over North Edgecombe. He didn’t have a long-range make in the game, but still finished with 37 points.

Smith’s struggles from the 3-point line continued Thursday at Research Triangle. Actually, the entire team struggled with its shooting from the perimeter. Still, Smith facilitated the offense as best he could against a lengthy Raptors defense.



Daria Jones was an important piece, offensively and defensively, to Washington earning its first playoff win under Ralph Biggs on Tuesday. Her presence inside hampered Jordan-Matthews enough to give Tierra Wiggins the chance to win the game at the buzzer.

The Lady Pack junior followed that with another team-leading 11 points in Thursday’s second-round loss at No. 2 East Duplin. This season has been another step forward, and Jones will be the person to build around next year in Biggs’ fourth season at the helm.



Cyntavea Blackledge has more than proven her worth in recent weeks. Her contributions have been difference makers for Washington. She picked up some slack in the second half of the Lady Pack’s first-round win, and finished that game with nine points.

Blackledge had a layup to give Washington a 46-45 lead with two minutes to go on Tuesday. She had five of her nine points in the last 16 minutes, which also helped set the table for Wiggins’ buzzer beater. She also chipped in six points against a stingy East Duplin defense.



Symone Ruffin did all she could in Southside’s trip to Lakewood in the first round. The Lady Seahawk senior, after making the playoffs for the first time last year, was intent in leading the team past the opening round this season.

A slow second quarter put Southside behind the ball, 35-19, at halftime. The Lady Seahawks ended up falling short, 74-57. Ruffin led all scorers with 23 points. She had three makes from the perimeter. She also chipped in four rebounds, four assists and three steals.



Dawson Jackson had as good a week as he’s had all season. It was an important time to find another gear, too. He’s not usually asked to contribute much on offense, but his few points and the jolt of energy proved to be a difference maker in the first round.

On Thursday in Durham, Jackson saw plenty of time on the court as his teammates racked up fouls. He thrived. His hustle earned him a steal-turned-layup that put the Panthers within nine with around three minutes left in the game. He helped lead the patchwork group that finished the game as it kept the game within reach down the stretch.