Lady Chargers win Carolina 12 tourney title
It wasn't anything like Northwood's 35-point win over Granville Central just one week ago but it was still deserving of a championship trophy at the end for the Lady Chargers.
Jasmine Harris made a 15-foot jumper from the top of the lane with 0:52 left and two defensive stops later, her hoop was the difference for Northwood's 42-41 win over Granville Central in the 2A Carolina 12 Tournament title game on Northwood's home floor Friday night.
Freshman forward Jasmine Atkins led the Lady Chargers (22-4) most of the way, totaling 17 points, 11 rebounds and six steals. Much of the contest was a struggle offensively for Northwood but getting the ball to Atkins around the hoop was an idea which paid off over and over again.
Northwood blitzed Granville Central 61-26 in the regular season finale last Friday.
Granville Central guard Keena Evans was the biggest reason the tourney final played out much different. Evans poured in 19 of her 25 points in the second half and made four three-pointers in the second half.
Even when Northwood knew what was coming Evans was hitting clutch shots. Such as when Evans hit a guarded, step-back triple from deep on the right wing to make it 41-40 Lady Panthers with 1:35 to play.
"We've played against her now for three years," said Northwood head coach Cameron Vernon, "so we know she's outstanding. We were actually playing good defense I thought. That last one, we had a hand right in her face."
Still, a rematch of last year's conference tourney final went to the Lady Chargers again and it was on a night which not everything went according to Northwood's usual plan.
After Granville Central edged in front, 10-9, with five minutes left in the first half, the Lady Chargers looked steadily for Atkins. She made two hoops in the low post, then finished a steal with a fast-break lay-up, spurring Northwood to a 19-14 halftime lead.
An 8-0 Lady Panther run, ending with Briona Blair's hoop off a fast break, made it 22-20 Granville Central with 5:20 left in the third period.
Northwood's back-up backcourt, Maria Vanderford and Tyeshia Baldwin, played a big role in turning the game back in the Charger direction in both halves. Vanderford scored eight points on the night and Baldwin had four assists and sparked the Lady Charger defense.
Sophomore Shontai Totten, Northwood's top scorer, came back on the court late in the third period and led a 6-0 Northwood run to a 32-24 lead. Totten struggled at times, but played well down the stretch when the Lady Chargers needed her and she still finished with 10 points, five assists and five rebounds.
"(Totten) actually has had a stomach bug and missed school yesterday," said Vernon, who said she fought through it in the semifinal game Wednesday night as well.
After Evans hit a three-pointer putting Granville Central ahead 41-40, a patient Lady Charger possession worked to get Harris the ball for an open, but pressure-packed shot to put Northwood back in front.
The Lady Chargers finally got Evans to miss a jumper on the ensuing Lady Panther trip. A Northwood turnover with 7.2 seconds left gave Granville Central one last shot. A full-court drive by Tamara Crews ended with a hurried 10-foot toss at the horn turned back by Tyeshia Baldwin's block.
Both sides move on to the NCHSAA 2A State Tournament. Northwood will be a No. 1 seed. The first round of states is set for Monday night.
More tournament finals on Friday night
Triton 58, Southern Wayne 57 - Eastern Carolina championship game
Eastern Wayne 58, Triton 33 - Eastern Carolina championship game
Reidsville 49, Jordan-Matthews 42 - Mid-State championship game
Scotland 46, Pinecrest 42 - Southeastern championship game