High School Sports

Aggressive approach by Neuse Charter girls pays dividends

In its third season of varsity basketball, the Neuse Charter girls basketball team is no longer a timid group resigned to playing the role of the proverbial punching bag for opposing teams.

In fact, as was on full display Thursday night in a Carolina 1A Conference showdown against Princeton, the Cougars are now the aggressors and that approach led to them delivering the Bulldogs a 50-42 knockout.

Point guard Dominique Dakin and shooting guard Kiondra Webb were relentless in attacking the basket, which led to many field goals from close range and also repeat visits to the free throw line.

“We do shoot a lot of threes but we talk all the time about attacking the basket,” Neuse Charter coach Daniel Casey said. “When we noticed that Princeton would foul us, we increased that aggression. We’ve got better ball handlers this year and they are better at controlling the ball while they are attacking. That made a huge difference.”

The victory moved the Cougars to 9-2 on the season and 2-0 in conference. The nine wins are a season record for the young program.

Turning point

The Bulldogs trailed just 18-16 after one quarter thanks to six baskets made from inside the paint. In the second quarter, however, Princeton struggled mightily on offense, settling for an Emily Ricks jump shot as its only points of the frame while the Cougars outscored them 9-2.

They said it

“We got all the shots we wanted; we were just inconsistent,” said Princeton coach Marty Gurganus. “That’s been our theme so far this season. We’ll have moments when we look good, our offense is fluid and we’re making shots. Then there are times when we’ve got to learn to finish.”

Three who mattered

Kiondra Webb, Neuse Charter: Webb was one of four Cougars to hit double digits in scoring (11) but it was her tenacity on the defensive end that caused more problems for Princeton. Webb amassed 11 steals on the night that led to numerous fast break and transition opportunities.

Dominique Dakin, Neuse Charter: The third-year varsity point guard was a handful for Princeton to try to contain. Dakin directed the offense and dished out half a dozen assists while pouring in 12 of her own points.

Jazmaine McCain, Princeton: Princeton’s force down low, McCain got the Bulldogs rolling early on with four baskets in the opening quarter. She ended the night with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Out of bounds

Due to some confusion present at the tip-off, both teams initially were unsure of which basket was theirs to defend and which one was theirs to attack. Fortunately for Princeton, the Bulldogs missed their two attempts at the “wrong” basket and order was restored.

Unsung hero

McKenna Kersat went toe-to-toe with Princeton’s McCain and more than held her own finishing the game with 10 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

By the Numbers

6: Blocks totaled by the Bulldogs’ Jazmaine McCain

10: Points contributed by Neuse Charter’s Lacey Jones.

11: Points scored by Princeton’s Jordan Benson, who came off the bench.

16: Points disparity between the two teams from the free throw line as the Cougars hit 18 of 32 from the charity stripe, while Princeton went 2-for-8.