DURHAM — Panther Creek and senior Nubian Spann entered the SJG MLK Black Wall Street High School Basketball Classic with all the hype after Spanns sensational backboard-breaking dunk.
But it was junior Kentrell Barkley and The News & Observers No. 1-ranked Northern Durham that stole the show in a 75-55 win Monday against the No. 2-ranked Catamounts at Durham Riverside High.
Barkley recorded a double-double of 25 points and 16 rebounds, plus two blocks. A 6-foot-5 forward, he had his double by halftime with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
I felt like in a zone, Barkley said. I just tried to keep moving and getting to the ball and get my teammates involved, too.
Teammates Ricky Council II and Jaquan Harris added 22 points and 10 points, respectively. Northern Durham also had five blocks.
Their length was the difference maker, Panther Creek coach L.J. Hepp said. The whole team length of players 6-5, 6-5 and 6-5, we havent seen that this season. They were altering our shots and just outperformed us. We were looking forward to this game to see how we stack up.
The Knights (16-1) went undefeated at the Classic, beating Rocky Mount 71-50 Saturday. Northern Durhams Ronnie Russell, who said this squad is the best he has ever coached, said the Catamounts (14-3) victory meant more because of the significance.
This was big because of the rankings between the two teams, he said. We try not to pay any attention to it, but people look at the numbers.
After a close first quarter, when Northern Durham led 21-14, the Knights took control in the second period. With Barkley dominating the paint, Harris kept Panther Creek from collapsing on the inside with hot outside shooting. The Knights limited the Catamounts to just nine points for a 40-23 halftime lead.
Northern Durham built its lead to 18 in the third, but Panther Creek made a brief rally with Barkley on the bench for the final 1 minute, 40 seconds to pull to within 14.
But it was all Northern Durham in the fourth, led by Councils 12 points 10 from the free-throw line to put the game away.
Gaqwez Hudson led the Catamounts with 17 points.