Northwestern’s experience helped the Trojans stave off the South Pointe Stallions 63-55 Friday night in Region 3-AAAA girls basketball action.
Northwestern (5-1 overall, 2-0 in Region 3) started three seniors and two juniors, while South Pointe (3-3, 0-2) started two freshmen and a sophomore. The Trojans hit 9-of-11 free throws in the fourth quarter to overcome a sluggish performance, and a feisty, undeterred South Pointe club.
“We made some key free throws down the stretch, and they missed some key free throws and easy shots,” said Northwestern coach John Bramlett. “I think a lot of that is experience.”
Junior guard Aubriana Thompson led all scorers with 16, and senior Mariah McCoy pitched in 13, including nine in the second half, for the victorious Trojans. Ashley Jaggers led the Stallions with 15, while Denisha Hall added 10.
South Pointe started two freshmen and a sophomore but busted out of the gates with no fear against a Northwestern team with a major height advantage. One ninth grader, Hall, buried a three from the elbow before fellow rookie Israelle Clark dropped in another trifecta to make it 10-4 to the Stallions with less than two minutes played.
“They played like they had no pressure,” said Bramlett, of the Stallions’ strong opening.
Northwestern rebounded quickly, scoring six unanswered to tie the game at 10. Northwestern’s fullcourt press pestered South Pointe into a number of unforced errors, while a defensive lapse on an inbounds play allowed Sha’Shay Alexander a freebie underneath the rim to the tie the score.
Neither team could count on getting successive stops on the defensive end. With the score tied at 21, the visitors rattled off six quick points, Ieshia Love and Mariah McCoy converting lay ups before Cayse Branyon feathered in a floater in the lane to make it 27-21 Northwestern, the Trojans’ biggest lead of a tight first half.
Northwestern took its biggest lead of the game with an 8-0 run early in the second half. Alexander converted a pair of free throws before Paige Samuelson’s put-back made it 47-39 Northwestern, and prompted a quick timeout by South Pointe coach Brett Childers.
Consistent with the seesaw nature of the game, the Stallions had the lead back with five minutes left, a 12-2 run putting the home team back on the right side of the score (51-49). But with the score tied 51 all with three minutes left in the game, the Trojans made the plays to close out their second region win of the week, out-scoring the hosts 12-4 in the clutch.
South Pointe 55
Northwestern - Ieishia Love 7, Aubriana Thompson 16, Cayse Branyon 6, Natalie Henderson 2, Sha’Shay Alexander 11, Paige Samuelson 4, Mariah McCoy 13, Courtney Cunningham-Heath 4.
South Pointe - Breana Davis 4, Denisha Hall 10, T’Keia Williams 4, Keyra Currence 2, Deiona Davis 7, Israelle Clark 7, Ashley Jaggers 15, Chastity Cloud 2, Cameron Davis 4.
3-point goals - Northwestern 1 (McCoy), South Pointe 3 (Hall 2, Clark 1). Team fouls - Northwestern 17, South Pointe 18. Fouled out - Breana Davis (South Pointe).
Clover 40, Nation Ford 25
The Blue Eagles’ defense was more impressive than their offense as they held Nation Ford to just 24 percent shooting in the win.
“We know it’s important to play good defense,” said Clover coach Sherer Hopkins.
Nation Ford struggled all game despite being led by Taylor Yarborough, who scored 15 of the team’s 25 points.
Despite having a 31-15 lead after three quarters, Clover was still able to easily move the ball up the court and get to the hoop.
Clover was led by Elizabeth Edmunds, who scored 14 points in the win.
“We tried to utilize her height as much as we can,” Hopkins said.
Nation Ford’s defense improved to start the second half forcing three quick turnovers, but only scoring on one of them.
Both teams started slow offensively after the opening tip. Nation Ford struggle some with ball handling and turned the ball over as much as they scored with six turnovers.
Clover then went on a on a 7-0 run to make it 25-19 with the help of a Ryehia Robbins 3-pointer. The Blue Eagles were helped by switching to a half-court defense for part of the quarter. That gave them more opportunity to create turnovers.
Both Yarborough and Edmunds contributed the majority of offense for their teams, as Yarborough had four of Nation Ford’s six points and Edmunds had six of Clover’s 10 points.
Yarborough pulled the Falcons within striking distance with a 3-pointer in the second quarter, little did they know those points were the only ones that Nation Ford scored in the quarter.
Clover again had a slow start, but defensively took up any slack on the other end of the court, holding Nation Ford to just 1-of-8 shooting.
The Blue Eagles didn’t do much better shooting just 4-of-12 from the field.
Nation Ford cut down on its turnovers from the first quarter, but still struggled.
Clover - Elizabeth Edmunds 14, Ryehia Robbins 9, Logan Richardson 7, Alexis Brice 4, Aaliyah Knox 4, Breshalya Hall 2.
Nation Ford - Taylor Yarborough 15, Dani Shaddix 4, Tiaira Potts 2, Zippy Lincoln 2, Chelsea Gant 2.
3-point goals - Clover 2 (Robbins 2), Nation Ford 1 (Yarborough 1). Team fouls - Clover 9, Nation Ford 15.
Records: Clover 6-0, 2-0 Region 3-AAAA; Nation Ford 4-3, 1-1 Region 3-AAAA.