Northwood earns conference title after winning 10 straight

Posted 2/21/20

HENDERSON — It’s official.

The Northwood girls’ basketball team downed Vance County 42-30 Friday night in Henderson after hammering East Chapel Hill 58-33 and Northern Durham 42-21 earlier …

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Northwood earns conference title after winning 10 straight

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Posted

HENDERSON — It’s official.

The Northwood girls’ basketball team downed Vance County 42-30 Friday night in Henderson after hammering East Chapel Hill 58-33 and Northern Durham 42-21 earlier in the week to close the regular season at 13-1 in league play and at 19-5 overall. The Lady Chargers have won 10 consecutive games.

Those wins sealed the squad’s 3A Big Eight Conference championship.

Against Vance County on Friday evening, it was anything but easy.

“Big win over a very talented Vance team,” NW coach Cameron Vernon said after the victory. “We have heard this is a tough place to play and the two-hour drive doesn’t help, but I thought we just really executed well tonight. We got good shots against their zone and really capitalized on our offensive execution.”

Vernon pointed out the second quarter as the key to the game.

“The second quarter was huge outscoring them 15-1 and building the big lead into half time,” Vernon said. “Looking at the stats we didn’t shoot well — 27 percent (12/44) — but we went 15/21 (71 percent) from the free throw line. We made more free throws than they attempted so that is always a stat that a coach loves to see.”

Vernon was also happy his team took the message he preached to heart on Valentine’s Day.

“I told the girls before the game that even though we had clinched the conference on Tuesday that 13-1 sounded a lot better than 12-2 in conference and rankings are still being accounted for,” he said. “So they answered the challenge to stay focused and get the job done. This two hour bus ride is going to be a lot better too after a win like this.”

Natalie Bell canned a trey on the way to four points in the opening period and Tekeyah Bland added three more to offset a trey from Vance County’s Alexis Mimms as Northwood took an 11-9 lead after one.

The 15-1 spurt in the second was the difference in the game as Hannah Kanapkey drained a pair of treys to ignite the run.

Leading 26-10 at the half, Northwood never could turn the game into a complete rout as Vance County outscored the locals 12-10 in the third behind seven points from Yumyah Hargrave including a trey. Caitlin Bailey countered with four points in the third for the Chargers.

The scoring would slow down in the fourth but Bland would score four points to cap the 42-30 Northwood victory.

Bland paced Northwood with 11 points and three steals while Bell chipped in eight points, Kanapeky and Rae NcClarty six points each, and Chandler Adams added seven rebounds.

Hargrave led all scorers with 12 points.

Three nights earlier in Pittsboro, Northwood crushed East Chapel Hill 58-33 to clinch the Big Eight title.

The Chargers built leads of 17-4 after one period of play and 36-11 at the break to cruise to the win.

“With this win we clinched our first Big 8 Championship since 2016 (co-champions that year with Chapel Hill),” noted Vernon. “If you would have told me before the season I would have thought you were crazy that we would be in this position. In October I was having trouble sleeping thinking about how we would handle Chandler Adams missing the start of the season with a knee injury. We also lost our starting guard Myla Marve to a torn ACL and a key forward Kaya Hill to a knee injury. But for this team to handle the adversity and accomplish this with two freshman starters is really something else.”

Vernon expressed his feelings on his club’s accomplishments through all the trials and tribulations of the season as well as the continuing progression of his talented freshman in Bland.

“I told them after the game that I am thankful that they have allowed me to join them on this journey through the regular season,” the coach said. “To accomplish this regular season championship, in this league, with those injuries I mentioned says a lot about the will of these ladies. Tonight Tekeyah Bland was huge. She came out like she was possessed having 15 in the first half. She went after their best player (Kayla Characklis) and got her in foul trouble. After Tekeyah it was then just a solid effort by everyone. We shared the ball, got after it on defense, a typical Northwood Lady Charger performance.”

Bland scored nine in the opening period and Mckenna Snively drained a trey to spark the Chargers to the 17-4 lead after one.

In the second, Bland had six more to go with four points each from Gianna McManaman and Micah McClarty, and a three-pointer from Bell. Riley Ellis had three points for East Chapel Hill.

From there Northwood controlled the game en route to the easy victory as Bland added four in the third to go with a trey from Kanapkey, before Kanapkey chipped in four more in the fourth.

Bland led all scorers with 19 points while McClarty added eight and Kanapkey seven.

McManaman chipped in five rebounds and five assists in the triumph for the Chargers while McClarty and Bland added three steals apiece.

Kayla Characklis led East Chapel Hill with eight points while Catherin Waters chipped in seven, including five in the third on the strength of a trey.

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