GIRLS BASKETBALL

Defending champ Northwood starts 0-2; Walden leads Charter

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The defending 3A champion Northwood girls basketball team has had its hands full early on this season.

Entering Tuesday night’s game at Wakefield (which concluded after press time), the Chargers were 0-2 overall. Northwood opened the year with a 60-52 loss to Apex Friendship on Nov. 18 before falling again four days later to Panther Creek, 62-46.

Despite the rough start to the year, Northwood purposefully scheduled difficult opponents to open the year, something it hopes will help the team down the line if it makes another deep playoff run. The combined record of the Chargers’ first two opponents — both of which are 4A schools — in 2021-22 was 51-9 overall.

Northwood also plays Thursday on the road at Apex. The Chargers’ first home game of the season is Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. against Jordan High.

All six girls basketball teams in the county have played at least one game this season. The team with the most wins entering Tuesday night’s games was Chatham Charter, which sported a 3-1 record ahead of its game at Research Triangle on Tuesday.

The Knights have been led by senior Tamaya Walden, who averaged 23.0 points, 6.5 assists and 3.8 steals per game in her first four games of the season. Walden is coming off a junior season where she averaged 22.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.8 steals per game. She is currently the only active Chatham County girls player with at least 1,000 career points (1,231).

Last season, Chatham Charter reached the second round of the 1A state playoffs before falling to Clover Garden School. The Knights finished the year with a 19-9 overall record.

The only other Chatham County girls team with multiple wins entering Tuesday night was Seaforth, which was 2-0 ahead of its game against J.F. Webb. The Hawks opened the year with a 61-38 win over Carrboro on Nov. 18 and followed it up with a 45-26 victory over Leesville Road in a Thanksgiving tournament last Friday.

Seaforth is in its second year as a varsity program and features a roster made up of six freshmen, four sophomores and two juniors. The Hawks are led offensively by sophomore Gabby White, who had 15 points in the team’s first game of the season and averaged 15.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.7 steals per game as a freshman in 2021-22, when Seaforth went 19-8 overall and 12-0 in conference play.

The Hawks’ next game is at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8 at home against Western Alamance. Seaforth has three games to play before participating in the Maroon Devils Christmas Classic at Swain County High beginning Dec. 28.

The only 1-0 team entering Tuesday night was Chatham Central, which eked out a 44-38 win over South Davidson on Nov. 22. The Bears rematched the Wildcats on Tuesday and play at Southwestern Randolph at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Central had an up-and-down season in 2021-22, finishing the year with an overall record of 14-14 and a 9-2 mark in conference play — with its only two losses coming to Seaforth. The Bears made it to the third round of the 1A state playoffs before falling to Bertie, 58-31.

The two teams outside of Northwood still searching for their first wins entering the week were Jordan-Matthews and Woods Charter. The Jets opened the year with a 42-27 loss to Southern Lee on Nov. 21 and played Trinity at home Tuesday. J-M’s next game is Friday on the road at Western Guilford.

The Jets are coming off a 2021-22 season where they went 5-17 overall and 3-8 in conference play. Jordan-Matthews last winning season came in 2014-15, when it went 19-8 overall under head coach Melody Dark.

Woods Charter, meanwhile, was 0-1 overall entering Wednesday’s match against Vance Charter. The Wolves fell to Cornerstone Charter, 38-21, on Nov. 16, in their first game of the season.

The Wolves are coming off back-to-back winning seasons and are in their third year under head coach Princess Alston. Woods Charter went 12-7 overall last season and made it to the second round of the state playoffs before losing to Bertie.

Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon can be reached at jeremy@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @jbo_vernon.

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