CARY — Danielle Moore was encourgaed by her first career game as head coach of the Panther Creek girls’ basketball team despite a loss to visiting Northwood on Tuesday night. The Chargers from Pittsboro pulled away for good in the middle of the fourth quarter, scoring the last 14 points of the game to win 43-29.
“I think we have a lot of potential, but we’re young. So we’ve got some growing to do and some maturing to do,” Moore said. “Especially in some game situations.”
The Catamounts have just three seniors on this year’s team and none of them have averaged more than five points a game on varsity before.
Marissa Sims, who didn’t play varsity last year, led Panther Creek with 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Sophomore Caila Sprull (nine points), freshman Gabby Rogers (six), junior Kate Ulveling (two) and junior Anna Huryn (two) rounded out the scoring.
Sprull had a game-high nine rebounds.
Panther Creek trailed 10-7 after the first period but railled to take a 19-17 lead at halftime thanks to Ulveling’s banked jumper with less than 10 seconds to go.
But in the second half, Northwood seemed to compose itself. Chargers point guard Shontai Totten exploded for 11 of her game-high 16 points in the final two quarters.
Moore likes her Panther Creek team the way it can get up and down the floor at a pace to her liking. But Northwood began to take better care of the ball in the second half – cutting down turnovers from 18 to eight – limiting how much Panther Creek could run.
“I liked our effort. We faced some adversity and pulled it back 19-19 (in the third quarter),” Moore said. “It’s all in the growing process.”
Northwood, one of the top 2A teams in the state over the past two seasons, made it to the regionals in 2011 and the third round in 2012. Now, the Chargers have an even tougher task moving to 3A. Northwood now shares a league with the reigning 3A state runnerup (Chapel Hill), the defending PAC-6 champion (Southern Durham, having moved down from 4A) and formidable programs in Cedar Ridge and Cardinal Gibbons.
“This season’s definitely going to be a challenge for us going from 2A to 3A and that’s why we’ve scheduled Panther Creek. They gave us everything they had tonight, and I have to give them credit because they really pushed us,” Northwood coach Cameron Vernon said. “Every night is going to be a difficult game. We have to bring our ‘A’ game every night in this league, but that’s what makes it fun.”
The Chargers also got 10 points from Kristian Eanes, six from Jasmine Harris, five from Moriah Morrow, four from Eboni Watson and two from Jazanae Billings.
Harris, Totten and Watson each had five rebounds while Billings, a freshman, had five steals.
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