The last time the Northwood girls basketball team visited Chapel Hill, they got “blown out” in the Big 8 Conference championship game, as coach Cameron Vernon put it.
On Tuesday, the Chargers returned, and defeated Chapel Hill 61-23 to remain undefeated, looking like a force to be reckoned with in doing so despite missing three key contributors due to season-ending ACL injuries that occurred last week.
Nine different players scored for Northwood (7-0, 2-0), including senior shooting guard Kadie Snipes, who turned in a team-high 14 points, and the Chargers outscored the Tigers 25-4 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
For Chapel Hill (2-5, 0-1), the loss was its first at home against a conference opponent since losing 44-42 to Cardinal Gibbons on Jan. 10, 2012.
While Vernon was a unsatisfied with the way his team was being out-hustled at times during the first half, the Chargers made up for it in the second half.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we played most of the first half, and we as a staff laid into them at halftime,” Vernon said. “And I thought they responded really well with the second-half performance. What was big was the first four minutes of that third quarter. I thought we set the tone.”
On a night where Northwood shooting guard Kristian Eanes, who entered Tuesday’s contest averaging 19.3 points per game, was held to eight points, a bevy of her teammates helped carry the load, with Snipes doing the most. Of her 14 points, nine came in the second half, and she also hit three 3-pointers.
“The first half wasn’t really working so great, but in the second half I tried to take better shots that were higher percentage shots, and more in my comfort zone,” Snipes said.
Freshman forward Chandler Adams also assumed a bigger role as the game went on for the Chargers, finishing with 11 points after being held to two in the first half.
Vernon said it’s crucial for his group to stay balanced on offense in order to remain successful as the season continues.
“We have to be. We don’t have any big-time scorers,” Vernon said. “We lost three of those (to ACL injuries). But we need to be well-rounded, and have a balanced scoring attack.”
According to Vernon, Northwood’s motto for the season is “all in”, and the Chargers now have a newfound source of motivation: playing for forward Erika Nettles, point guard Jazanae Billings and shooting guard Bryn Aydt, all of whom saw their seasons come to an end in bizarre fashion.
“Even though we’re down three players, it’s helped us to come out stronger, and fight harder to win for them,” Snipes said.
The game marked another frustrating night for the Tigers. One of the more dominant programs in the Triangle historically, Chapel Hill now finds itself three games under .500, and coach coach Sherry Norris noticed her team making several of the same mistakes that have plagued them earlier in the year.
“We’re 2-5, the seventh game of the season, and we still aren’t executing what we need to be executing,” Norris said.
Point guard Acayja Degraffenried led the Tigers with eight points.
Entering the season, Chapel Hill returned just two starters from last year’s team, and that number is now down to one as power forward Alliyah Chaplin is no longer on the team.