Lady Cougars v Independence
By Brad Greer
After dropping a pair of regular season contests to Independence by a combined six points, the North Panola girls were victorious when it counted.
The Lady Cougars hit a sizzling 63 percent field goal percentage in the first half while four starters scored in double figures in route to a 68-42 pounding of the Wildcats Tuesday in the opening round of the District 3-3A tournament at Northwest Community College.
North Panola, (11-18), who came into the contest as the No. 5 seed, was led in scoring by sophomore Catonya Newsom’s 18 points. Fellow sophomores Jenisha “Shaq” Jackson and Audrey Taylor each had 17 points while Brittany Patton added 14 points. Shavetta Gordon rounded out the scoring with two points.
The Lady Cougars jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and were never seriously threatened in the contest. Taylor, Newsom and Jackson all recorded four points each while Gordon added a basket before Kyiesha Shorty scored the Wildcats initial basket at the 1:58 mark of the first quarter.
Newson connected on a three-pointer in the opening minutes of the second period to expand North Panola’s lead to 19-5. Shorty kept the Wildcats within striking range with a pair of baskets and a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 25-15 with four minutes before halftime. That however would be as close as Independence would get on the night as Patton swished three consecutive three-pointers as North Panola took a 36-23 lead into the locker room.
“We did a lot better playing them this time around as far as execution and being able to weather the storm after they cut our lead to 10 there in the second quarter. When they came with their defensive pressure our guards were able to beat the press and push the ball up the floor,” said Cougar head coach Chris Yancy.
In the second half, North Panola pushed its lead to 21 points by the end of the third period. Jackson scored 11 of her 17 points in the second half including a basket off a no-look pass from Newson to make the score 48-30 at the 2:20 mark.
Newson connected on four of six free throw attempts in the fourth period, two of which came with 5:44 remaining in the game for a 58-37 lead.
“We’ve been working for the past week on our offensive sets and our guards did a great job of getting the ball into Shaq on the low post. Brittany Patton was another key tonight, she hit a couple of big 3’s there in the second quarter that helped out a lot,” said Yancy.
North Panola finish the game shooting 27-of-46 (59 percent) from the floor while limiting the ‘Cats to only 31 percent (16-of-51) on the night while forcing 12 turnovers.
“We just came out tonight and played hard for 32 minutes. Last time we played them we missed too many free throws and felt like we gave them the game. We did not want the season to end tonight. This was probably the best offensive game we’ve played all season,“ said Patton who finished four-of-eight shooting from the floor on the night.