Both North Johnston basketball teams had to deal with frustration in their respective Eastern Carolina 2A Conference clashes with Southwest Edgecombe Wednesday night.
The Panthers girls were able to overcome the frustration of losing a 10-point fourth quarter before holding on in overtime for their inaugural league victory, 65-60, over the Cougars.
North’s boys weren’t as fortunate, suffering through several frustrating dry spells on offense in dropping a 62-44 outcome to their speedy rival.
Lots of heroes pull out win
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The first frustration the Panthers girls had to deal with was facing a defensive switch by the Cougars late in the first quarter.
That change was from a man-to-man pressure defense to a box-and-one, in an effort to curtail the scoring of Chandler Hines, who had burned Southwest for ten points in the period, including a pair of 3-pointers, enabling North to claim a 14-13 lead. The strategy worked for a while and limited Hines to only 3 points the remainder of the night.
Southwest used the lull in Hines’ productivity in putting together an 8-3 surge in grabbing a 21-17 advantage .
But what Langley – and her team didn’t count on was a trio of Panther players stepping up their respective games and at the most opportune moments.
Jamie Johnson stepped first for the Panthers after scoring the other first quarter points, she took over offensively in the second period with seven points, forcing Southwest to focus on her.
And once they did that, up stepped Tangela Williams, who was a best at both ends of the floor, netting five points in the second period, and taking control of the game in the third, adding eight of the Panthers’ first 10 points of the second half.
Williams went onto finish the night with 17 points, but more importantly, 15 rebounds in a double-double effort.
“I thought that was huge,” said Panthers coach Jay Poole. “We had to have her on the boards. Jamie had a big night with 17 points, and Samantha (Richardson) with 13. Thank goodness the other players stepped up.
“When they (Cougars) shut down one of them (Panthers), another one stepped up.”
Not to be outdone, Richardson made her presence felt in the fourth quarter, draining seven consecutive points, including a 3-pointer, pushing the Panthers from a 43-30 edge into a seemingly comfortable 50-42 bulge.
Williams added a pair of free throws with 3:29 remaining, stretching the margin to a 52-42 cushion.
“I’m very proud of the team,” Poole said. “They had faced junk defenses before and tonight they did a really good job of it, attacking it, finding the gaps and getting good looks.”
The Panthers had a combined 6-of-16 free throws down the stretch in regulation and in overtime, and 18-of-36 in the game.
The Cougars knotted the game at 56-all on a 3-pointer by Xiadysia Andersen with 17seconds left.
Despite their woes at the charity stripe, the Panthers reassumed control of the game at the outset of the extra period on a bucket by Williams, two free throws by Johnson and a 3-pointer by Richardson to claim a 63-56 cushion, holding on by hitting 2-of 8 free throws to offset a late Cougars rally.
Empty possessions costly for boys
Despite playing on nearly even terms for 21 minutes, North Johnston couldn’t score enough to keep pace with a Cougars squad who dazzled not only the spectators, but the Panthers as well with the ability to penetrate into the paint and at times, showtime-style passing.
Although not as fleet afoot as their counterparts, the Panthers played the Cougars tooth and nail, trailing 33-29 with 4:55 remaining in the third period on a basket by Tanner Snipes, who had cut Southwest’s eight-point lead in half with consecutive shots.
Unfortunately, Snipes who thought he had been fouled, on the second bucket, protested too much in the officials opinion and was hit with a technical foul.
The call seemed to take the starch out of the Panthers, who despite playing on gamely, couldn’t find the basket enough, enduring a five-minute drought from the field, to fall behind by 14 points at the end of the quarter, and a couple of empty possessions that could have turned the game around in the fourth period.
Trailing 47-38 on the strength of a 7-2 run to start the quarter, the Panthers picked the pocket of Southwest’s Jason Jones to have an opportunity to slice further into the deficit.
But North turned the ball over, enabling the Cougars to get a bucket from Devontrell Hyman for a 49-38 lead.
Hyman took advantage of a poor shot by the Panthers seconds later, riving in for a three-point play, and a 52-38 Southwest lead, virtually sealing the outcome.
The Panthers were paced by Snipes, who tallied 11 points, while Spencer Griswold added 10. Southwest got a game-high 23 from Fabrion Bandy.