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A long time coming for Lady Bulldogs

Princeton beats North Johnston for first time in ages

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PRINCETON — It was many years in the making, but Princeton finally got over the hump and defeated cross-county varsity girls basketball rival North Johnston, 38-31, Friday night. 

For the first time in more than a decade, the 1-A Carolina Conference Lady Bulldogs (3-4) earned a win over the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference Lady Panthers (1-2). The team was obviously excited as throughout the locker room, Post Malone’s “Congratulations” blared as the girls celebrated a streak that had started when all of them were still in elementary school.

“That was a big win, I don’t know how many years it’s been since Princeton has beaten North Johnston in girls basketball,” Princeton third-year head coach Paula Wooten said. “I don’t know the number of years, but it’s been a long time.”

The streak predates the MaxPreps era, and is believed to extend as far as the late 1980s, based on anecdotal evidence. But in the MaxPreps era (2008-18), the Lady Bulldogs were 0-21 against the Lady Panthers, including a 35-18 loss Nov. 30 at North Johnston. Since 2008, Princeton had come within 10 points just twice and within one possession once in 2013. Observers estimated that the losing streak could be as many as 60 games.

The Lady Panthers, coming off a 35-33 loss to Rosewood on Monday night, couldn’t get their shots to fall. North Johnston head coach Jay Poole said he was happy with his team’s effort and defense, but knew coming into the season that offense would be hard to come by. North Johnston lost several starters to graduation, including Tay Jones, now a freshman on the Georgetown University team.

Poole said he just wants to see improvement game by game.

“We’re hoping we get a little better each practice, each game, and try to improve because you got to keep their spirits up,” Poole said. “You got to give them something to work toward and some goals, and sometimes the goals aren’t on the scoreboard.”

Jordyn Scott and Arial Pearce led the Lady Panthers in scoring with nine points each. Lindsey Massengill finished with eight points. 

Princeton’s lone senior Tikiria Cummings stole the show by scoring 14 points. Meridith Wooten and Reanna Braswell both chipped in with nine and six points, respectively.

But while beating North Johnston was huge, Princeton also got a 39-22 win at C.B. Aycock earlier in the week. Paula Wooten said her team has been growing and Cummings coming into her own has helped.

“The last two games she’s stepped it up and been the senior leader she needs to be,” Wooten said. “Even though they may be juniors, they’re inexperienced. So I think as the season goes on, if we can handle pressure, I think we’ll be OK.”

NORTH JOHNSTON (31)

Scott 9, Pearce 9, Massengill 8, Hines 2, Jones 2, Narron 1, Barnes, Blue, Gachuz

PRINCETON (38) 

Cummings 14, Wooten 9, Braswell 6, Moore 5, Woodall 2, Klein 2

Score by quarters:

North Johnston 2, 10, 9, 10 - 31

Princeton 7, 10, 11, 10 - 38

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