High School Sports

North Johnston girls basketball gets defensive in win against Princeton

North Johnston’s Levossie Taylor (10) puts up a shot over Princeton's Jazmaine McCain (50). Coverage from the boys and girls basketball games between the Bulldogs of Princeton High School and the Panthers of North Johnston High School played in Princeton, N.C. on Friday, December 11, 2015. The North Johnston girls won 50-26.
North Johnston’s Levossie Taylor (10) puts up a shot over Princeton's Jazmaine McCain (50). Coverage from the boys and girls basketball games between the Bulldogs of Princeton High School and the Panthers of North Johnston High School played in Princeton, N.C. on Friday, December 11, 2015. The North Johnston girls won 50-26. newsobserver.com

Some extra defensive work paid big dividends for North Johnston’s girls basketball team in a victory over rival Princeton on Friday night.

The Panthers held Princeton scoreless for the first five minutes of the second quarter to take charge and went on to a 50-28 nonconference victory.

North Johnston (6-3) completed a two-game season sweep of the Bulldogs (3-3).

“In our previous game we were called for a lot of reach-ins and slaps (on defense),” North Johnston coach Jay Poole said. “This past two practices, we got our hands up and I told them, ‘No reaching, no fouling.’ They did a better job of moving their feet tonight and staying in front of the ball.”

Princeton coach Marty Gurganus also pointed to the Panthers’ defense as a big key to the game.

“I thought their defense hurt us more than anything,” Gurganus said. “They were aggressive on defense, overplaying. They are good at taking away the passing lanes. … I don’t think we ever quit, but we just never got into a rhythm offensively. North Johnston had a lot to do with that.”

Sophomore forward Tayanna Jones led the Panthers with 14 points and senior guard Olivia Narron had 10 points. Levossie Taylor (9 points), Jahkira Blue (8) and Emma Turner (7) combined for 24 points as the Panthers spread the scoring around.

“We were really balanced in our scoring,” Poole said. “That was real good to see.”

Turning point

The second quarter was the pivotal segment of the game. North Johnston began the period with a 12-0 run, forcing eight turnovers over the first five minutes of the quarter and taking a 24-8 lead. The quarter ended with North Johnston outscoring Princeton 21-6 and holding a 33-14 halftime lead.

They said it

“We try to work the ball around and get ball reversals, but they have the green light (to drive to the basket) if they can get to the paint,” North Johnston coach Jay Poole said of his team’s ability to penetrate and score against Princeton. “They did a good job. We did a better job of not traveling. Sometimes we get called for some travels on ball fakes, but we did a better job in that area tonight.”

Three who mattered

North Johnston’s Tayanna Jones: The sophomore forward had a game-high 14 points, leading the Panthers’ balanced scoring. “Last year as a freshman she was really learning the game and came off the bench for us,” Poole said. “She worked on her game as has gotten better with her ball handling and shooting. Now we are working on her learning how to lead an offense, how to lead a team.”

North Johnston’s Olivia Narron: The senior guard added 10 points for the Panthers, playing tough perimeter defense and coming up with several steals that led to fastbreak baskets for North Johnston.

Princeton’s Emily Ricks: The sophomore had eight points to share team scoring honors with Kortney Edwards.

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