Northside girls preview: Jones set for final season

Published 8:30 am Saturday, November 18, 2023

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Mariah Jones enters her final season for the Northside girls squarely in the Coastal Plains 1A/2A spotlight now that Southside’s three-time conference player of the year, Ka’Nayah O’Neal now wears a Fayetteville State University uniform.

Jones scored her 1,000th career point in the Panthers final game last season and is poised to lead the Lady Panthers on a potentially deep playoff run.

Northside has four of its five starters back while breaking in freshman point guard Sophie Berry.

“We have enough experience and talent around her so she has time to get comfortable in our offense,” coach Michelle Leathers said. “She is a solid defender and a good shooter. We’ll be patient with her as she develops.”

Along with Jones, who averaged close to 20 points a game last year while making the All-Region team, the Panthers return guard Olivia Jane (O.J.) Cahoon, junior post player Madison Scheffler and Tatianna Moore from last years’ 18-7 squad that finished third in the CPC. Sophomores Brooke Harding and Piper Johnson also saw action last season.

“We’re looking to do better than third this year and have more depth to achieve that,” Leathers said. “O.J. is aggressive and has developed into a leader. She can shoot, rebound and is a solid defender. Mimi (Jones) is strong in the post on her drives and is effective down there with Madison (Scheffler). It’s her last chance to do something while she’s here, so I think she will be ready to go.”

Pamlico County will provide the strongest league competition according to Leathers, while the rest of the league lost key players.

“We have a chance to win our conference and the thing I like best about this group is the way they hold each other accountable,” Leathers said. “They chose “I am third” for our slogan this year. God first, team second and then themselves.”