While the scoreboards at North Pitt’s gym weren’t functioning in spite of the school’s best efforts, no scoreboard was needed to figure out which girls basketball team was better.
North Pitt had little trouble beating J.H. Rose 47-35 Monday night in a cross-county matchup. The win was the Panthers’ 23rd in a row going back to last season, when they captured the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A title.
North Pitt’s boys used a scoring burst at the end of the first half and another bridging the third and fourth quarters to hold off the Rampants 68-59.
“It was a good learning experience,” Rose boys coach James Rankins said. ”Unfortunately, it was one of those experiences where you lose to learn.”
North Pitt will host Nash Central on Wednesday, while J.H. Rose will be at Havelock on Thursday.
Nyjanique Langley, the MVP of the 2016 2A championship game, set the tone, scoring eight of the Panthers’ first 13 points to stake her team to an eight-point advantage just 5 minutes, 30 seconds into the contest.
The superior skill, speed and depth of N&O No. 4 North Pitt (3-0) was evident throughout, as first-year Panthers coach William Knight kept his team fresh by occasionally substituting all five players on the floor.
North Pitt was leading 31-15 at halftime, and even ran the four corners set in the second half in an attempt to minimize possessions.
Langley finished with 15 points, Ashanti Hines added 12 points and three steals and Casandra Watson chipped in 10 points and six rebounds. While Knight was pleased with the effort, he wants to be able to depend on more than a trio of players as the season progresses.
“That’s our biggest point of emphasis right now,” he said. “We’ve got to develop some players.”
No. 25 Rose fared better than Southern Wayne and South Creek, which North Pitt drubbed by 41 and 39 points, respectively, to open its season.
Castar Braswell had 14 points and four steals for the Rampants (0-1). Rose coach Mark Johnson feels his team doesn’t have enough scorers but made no excuses, summarizing his opponent in the process.
“They’re good,” Johnson said of the Panthers.
North Pitt (3-0) broke a tie at 19 with 3:10 to play in a sloppily-played first half. Drives to the basket for layups by Nytrell Chapman and Reggie Carney, an old-fashioned three-point play by Chapman and a steal and layup by Nasqueonta Staton triggered a 10-0 run at the end of the first half by the Panthers.
While North Pitt coach Mark Carson was glad to have the lead going into the locker room at halftime, he didn’t mince words about his team’s early play.
“I told our kids that looked like that was our first game,” Carson said, realizing that it was Rose’s season opener. “We had no excuse for that, especially at home and especially since our guards are seniors.”
The No. 15 Rampants got a basket by Creighton Lebo to close within 47-42 in the last seconds of the third quarter, but a steal and subsequent 3-pointer by the Panthers’ Zaquarious Sherrod-Wilson as the stanza ended, then a 6-0 to start the last period put the game away for North Pitt.
Devonte Pettaway had 20 points for the Panthers, Sherrod-Wilson compiled 12 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals and Carney added 10 points. Jorden Boyd was the lone player for J.H. Rose (0-1) in double figures, finishing with 21 points.
“As a team, we feel good,” Rankins said. “We shot the ball horribly tonight, but tonight was one of those nights you have to play good defense. We didn’t play good defense.”