NP Lady Cougar Basketball
By Brad Greer
There is something about playing at Northwest Community College that seems to bring out the best in the North Panola Lady Cougars.
The Cougars ran their unbeaten streak to four games by downing Marks Palmer 54-39 in the first round of the North 3A state tournament Monday night. North Panola continued their amazing post-season run through the playoffs by taking on Houston last night at Alcorn Central in the quarterfinal round. A victory would advance them to tonight’s semi-final round against an opponent and time yet to be determined.
“I really don’t know what it is about this place (Howard Coliseum) that we like, but if we keep winning we might have to move all our games here,” joked Cougar head coach Chris Yancy in his post-game interview. “I was on pins and needles because I did not know how the girls would come out and play tonight. This is all new to us and the main thing is to keep focused. Once we settled down and do what we needed to do that helped out a lot.”
North Panola, (14-18) placed four players in double figure scoring led by sophomore center Jenisha Jackson’s 15 points. Guards Audrey Taylor and Brittany Patton followed with 13 and 12 points each while Catonya Newson chipped in with 10. Shavetta Gorden rounded out the scoring with four points. Senior Latonya Wilbourn did not score but played a valuable role coming off the bench.
Patton’s three-pointer from the left corner gave the Cougars a 10-3 lead midway through the first quarter. Palmer responded by going on a 8-1 run to narrow the score to 11-9 after one period.
Latika Thomas gave the Dragons their first lead of the game at 17-13 on a three pointer with 3:20 before halftime. North Panola then retook the lead at 18-17 less than a minute later on a pair of free throws by Patton. Thomas then canned another trey at the 1:11 mark to tie the game at 20-20.
Following one of 11 first- half turnovers by the Cougars, Palmer held the ball for the last 38 seconds waiting to get the last shot off before halftime, but threw the ball out of bounds with 1.3 seconds left on the clock.
The second half was all North Panola as they outscored Palmer 34-13 including 16-6 in the third quarter. The Dragons connected only on six-of-26 field goals in the final 16 minutes while shooting 26 percent (12- for-46) on the night. The Cougars on the other hand shot 61 percent (21-of-34) for the game including a red-hot 14-for-21 in the second half. North Panola shot 11-for-21 from the free throw line while Palmer was eight-of-14 from the charity stripe.
Jackson got things going for the Cougars by scoring 13 of her points in the second half. Her put back basket following a Taylor missed shot gave North Panola a 25-20 lead. The lead grew to 10 points at 33-23 late in the stanza on Jackson’s kiss off the glass.
“We did not get the ball to her in the first half like we should have, but in the second half they came out guarding us from the outside and that opened up the middle and we got her the ball and she did her thing,“ said Taylor, who scored eight points in the second half despite playing with four fouls.
Taylor iced the game by hitting a pair of free throws to give the Cougars their largest lead of the contest at 52-35 with 1:47 remaining in the contest.