PITTSBORO — Despite missing its first eight attempts from the field, league-leading Northwood opened up a nine-point advantage over Northern Durham after one quarter and was never seriously …
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PITTSBORO — Despite missing its first eight attempts from the field, league-leading Northwood opened up a nine-point advantage over Northern Durham after one quarter and was never seriously threatened en route to thrashing the Lady Knights 43-21 in a Big Eight 3A Conference matchup Monday evening in Lewis Norwood Gymnasium.
Corralling their eighth consecutive triumph while ascending to 10-1 on their home court this season, the Lady Chargers celebrated their Senior Night by improving to 11-1 against conference rivals and 17-5 for the year. In the meantime, Northern Durham, which has never beaten Northwood in 13 meetings on the hardwood, dropped to 3-8 in the league standings and 7-12 overall.
Chandler Adams tossed in a game-high 11 points and TeKeyah Bland chipped in 10 off the bench for the winners, who connected on 34 percent (17-of-50) of their field goal attempts and commanded a 32-23 advantage on the boards while turning the ball over a dozen times.
Maya Hood and Zaria Pittman led the Lady Knights with nine points apiece as Northern Durham shot just 20 percent (six-of-30) from the floor while committing 18 turnovers.
“It wasn’t pretty, but a win’s a win, and tonight’s victory puts us one game away from clinching our first regular-season conference championship in four years,” remarked Lady Chargers’ coach Cameron Vernon. “While I think the strain of holding onto first place throughout the season has resulted in us being mentally and physically fatigued at this point in time, we continue to find ways to win.”
Added Vernon, “I thought we rebounded well this evening, which gave us a lot of second-chance opportunities to put the ball in the hole, and we got our transition game going. Another big key was Rae McClarty’s defensive effort on Hood, who came into the game averaging 20 points an outing. By Rae holding her in check it forced others to handle and shoot the ball.”
Lady Knights’ coach Tim Crutchfield stated he felt his young team showed a lot of grit against a talented opponent.
“Our starting five is made up of freshmen and sophomores except for one senior, and although the final score might not indicate it, I thought they played their hearts out,” said Crutchfield.
“I was pleased with our press that at times forced Northwood to take bad shots,” Crutchfield said, “but they are so big inside and do such a good job setting picks. They also wore down our weak-side rebounding in the second half while denying Maya from getting her usual amount of touches on the offensive end.”
Following Nia Boney’s free throw with 6:14 to go in the initial period that gave Northern Durham a 1-0 advantage for its only lead of the night, baskets by McKenna Snively, Adams and Bland put the Lady Chargers up by five with 2:43 left in the frame.
After Natalie Bell’s jumper from the right side expanded Northwood’s advantage to 12-3 with 1:02 remaining in the first stanza, Hood’s conventional three-point play 14 seconds later cut the difference to six before Snively’s trey from the right wing with 2.6 seconds on the clock boosted the Lady Chargers’ lead to 15-6.
Even though Northwood only managed to register six points in the second quarter, holding the Lady Knights to a lone foul shot by Hood allowed the Lady Chargers to enter halftime with a 21-7 advantage.
Following an Adams layup that capped a 5-0 Northwood spurt to begin the third period, elevating Northwood’s spread to 19, Northern Durham closed the gap to 26-13 on a pair of Hood free throws with 4:46 to go in the stanza prior to Adams draining a three-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer that stretched the Lady Chargers’ lead to 31-14.
Northwood would then proceed to outscore the Lady Knights 12-7 in the fourth quarter, seizing its biggest advantage of the night at 42-18 on a pair of Jamaria Faucette charity tosses with 2:15 remaining in the contest.