Catamounts hold off Lady Chargers in season-opener

Posted 11/29/19

CARY — The Northwood girl’s basketball team gave 4A Panther Creek all it wanted and them some in its season opener on November 19 in Cary, but the host Catamounts held off a furious fourth …

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Catamounts hold off Lady Chargers in season-opener

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CARY — The Northwood girl’s basketball team gave 4A Panther Creek all it wanted and them some in its season opener on November 19 in Cary, but the host Catamounts held off a furious fourth quarter rally to take a 51-46 win.

Northwood (0-1) was led by a 16-point, 9-rebound contest from much heralded freshman TeKeyah Bland while McKenna Snively chipped in 14 points, Natlie Bell nine, and Gianna McManaman eight.

Panther Creek (1-0) was led by Madisyn Jordan who struck for a game-high 18 points while Harvard University commit Kennedy Heath chipped in 11 points, Erika Reid 11 more and Rosemary Pierson nine in the Catamounts victory.

Veteran Northwood coach Cameron Vernon liked what he saw in terms of effort by his young squad against a talented Panther Creek club.

“This was a really good test for us right out of the chute,” Vernon said. “The Heath girl is committed to Harvard and they had some really nice pieces around her. They were a really athletic team and they made it difficult for us on the offensive and defensive end. Although we came up short I was super proud of my team for coming back from an 18 point deficit in the fourth to really make Panther Creek sweat.”

The Catamounts led 47-29 entering the fourth and final quarter, seemingly well in control of the game.

Enter Snively who canned a trio of treys and 11 points in the final period while Bland chipped in seven more and McManaman four as the Lady Chargers closed the gap to 49-46 in the waning seconds before two charity tosses by Jordan ended the furious Northwood comeback bid to seal the Panther Creek win. Jordan, along with Reid and Heath, had four points for the Catamounts in the fourth who were outscored 27-14 in the frame.

“We have some freshman girls who are starting (Bland and McManaman) and it looked as the game went on the got much more comfortable,” said Vernon. “McKenna Snively was huge in the fourth with some clutch three’s on our set plays and TeKeyah really was a force inside in the second half. However we just couldn’t take care of the basketball well enough and we gave them way too many second and third chance points.”

Panther Creek had built a 13-10 lead after one period of play behind five points from Heath, a trey from Pierson and three points from Jordan. Northwood stayed close as Bell canned five points including a three-pointer, and Bland chipped in three points.

Methodically, the Catamounts used five more points from Jordan and three from Heath to use a 15-9 surge in the second to creep ahead 28-19 at the break. Micah McClarty canned a trey on the way to four points in the quarter for the Chargers to keep the locals within striking distance.

But in the third, Panther Creek would change that with a 19-10 run sparked by a pair of 6-0 runs and two treys from Pierson, six more points from Reid including a three-pointer, and four more points from Jordan including a trey. Bland had five points for Northwood in the period.

With the 47-29 advantage entering the fourth, the Catamounts would hold off the furious Chargers rally to take the season-opening victory.

“I told the girls this game is really simple,” Vernon said. “The team who has the fewer turnovers and rebounds the basketball typically comes out on top. Tonight Panther Creek was the much better team in those two critical categories.”

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