NP Lady Cougar Basketball
By Brad Greer
The clock struck twelve on the North Panola girl’s magical basketball season at the MHSAA/Cellular South State Basketball Championship tournament in the Mississippi Coliseum as the Lady Cougars fell to Franklin County 61-43 Tuesday afternoon.
Franklin County (25-10) came into the game as the south’s No. 2 seed and advances to Monday’s 3A semi-final round matchup against north champion Alcorn Central.
Both teams showed a little nervousness at the start of the game as they missed the first 14 shots of the game.
Audrey Taylor got North Panola on the board with a three-pointer with 4:45 left in the quarter. Franklin County took the lead at 5-3 on a pair of free throws by Shareka Hunt at the 2:38 mark and never trailed again the rest of the day.
Franklin County started to pull away in the second quarter as they outscored North Panola 22-13.
The Bulldogs took advantage in the paint as North Panola’s sophomore center Jenisha Jackson was held scoreless in the game while playing most of the first half with three fouls. Franklin County’s six-foot junior center Pagie Webster knocked down a jumper for a 12-5 lead.
Shareka Hunt’s back-to-back baskets staked the Bulldogs to a 16-5 lead with 4:16 before halftime, prompting a timeout from Cougar head coach Chris Yancy.
North Panola cut the lead under ten at 20-11 when Shaveeta Gordon scored on a putback off Catonya Newson’s missed jumper. Brittney Patton scored nine of her 11 points in the quarter as the sophomore canned a pair of threes from the right corner to close the gap to 22-16 with two minutes to play.
But Franklin County took a 30-18 lead into the locker room as Monea Cameron went coast to coast for a layup with ten seconds left to play.
“We knew coming into the game that No. 5 (Jackson) could pose a problem for us and we needed to limit the number of times she touched the ball. Fortunately for us she got into foul trouble and took advantage of that,” said Franklin County head coach Charles Moore. “North Panola has got a good, young athletic ball team that is not going to do anything but get better next season. I hate to know I’d have to be in their district for the next few years.”
The second half was all Franklin County as they took a 38-21 lead with just over five minutes to play in the third quarter. Webster scored on a pair of inside baskets while Hunt hit three baskets from the outside and the duo combined for 43 points in the game.
Webster, who led all scorers with 22 points while pulling down 12 rebounds, gave the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game at 48-26 with a steal and layup at the end of the third period.
Afterwards, Yancy said playing in the 6,500 seat Coliseum for the first time might have had an effect on his young Cougars.
“You could tell we were nervous with all the missed layups and air balls we put up. Jenisha is a big part of our game and she shot the ball only three times in the first half and not much more than that in the second half. This is a great experience for us just to be here and we will learn from this and it will make the girls work even harder in the off season and hopefully get back here next year,” said Yancy.
Taylor led North Panola with 21 points to go along with four steals while Gordon registered nine points. Newson added two points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Franklin County, which is located 30 miles west of McComb in the Southwestern part of the state, hit 27-of-57 (47 percent) from the floor while committing 17 turnovers while North Panola connected on 16-of-48 fields goals (33 percent)and converting 6-of-18 free throw opportunities.