By MICHAEL HELD
KENLY—The last week of the regular season for the North Johnston girls basketball team didn’t start out the way the Panthers wanted it to, but a pair of conference wins to close out the week gave North Johnston some momentum heading into the Eastern Plains Conference tournament this week.
After losing 59-52 to non-conference opponent Midway, the Panthers responded with a huge win against SouthWest Edgecombe, a team that has regularly been ranked in the top 10 in the state, controlling the fourth quarter in a 52-48 win.
Jordyn Scott and Levossie Taylor both had six points in the final period as the Panthers turned a four-point deficit into a six-point advantage by the final minute of the contest.
A Bailey Davis 3-pointer with 10.3 seconds remaining drew the Cougars to within 51-48 but Scott canned one of two foul shots to ice the game.
“I told the girls that we can’t get arrogant but this is the potential they have,” North Johnston coach Jay Poole said. “We just have to bring it every night and be consistent. That’s just the thing with us; sometimes we’re inconsistent on turnovers, free throws.
“If we could straighten that out, I think that we could be the type of team that I’ve envisioned us being at times.”
Taylor led all scorers with 24 points and Tayanna Jones added 10 but it was on the defensive side of the ball that Poole felt the game was won.
SouthWest Edgecombe’s big guns were held in check thanks to some great individual defensive performances.
After Jones was whistled for her fourth foul, Poole noted how Mackenzie Gibson did a good job staying in front of Teliyah Owens while Scott drew the task of stopping Tia Farmer, holding her to 11 points, 10 less than she had in the teams’ first meeting.
“That’s a high scoring team and to hold them in the 40’s …if we can hold teams to the 40’s, I feel like we’ve got a chance,” Poole said.
The Panthers finished the week with a 57-46 triumph at Washington.
North Johnston held a slim 25-23 lead after two quarters of play but used a 19-point outburst in the fourth quarter to take a double-digit lead into the final period where the Panthers held on for the win that improved their record to 16-6 overall and 6-4 in the EPC.
Tayanna Jones led North Johnston with 22 points while Taylor also had a big night, going for 21 points. Lindsey Massengill continued her recent trend of becoming another solid source of offense with six points.
In the Panthers’ lone loss of the week, 18 missed free throws proved to be their undoing in a 59-52 loss at Midway. Taylor had 21 and Jones added 15 in the defeat.
North Johnston 52, SouthWest Edgecombe 48.
Scoring Summary: NJO—Levossie Taylor 24, Tayanna Jones 10, Jordyn Scott 8, Mackenzie Gibson 6, Lindsey Massengill 4.