Panthers eliminated from 1-A regional
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on March 3, 2004 1:56 PM
GREENVILLE -- North Johnston's girls basketball team got a true test-of-heart in their Class 1-A N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regional semifinal clash against Weldon Tuesday night at Greenville J.H. Rose High School.
In the first half, the Lady Panthers shot nine-of-28 from the free-throw line and committed 14 turnovers against a scrappy Charger press.
"We talk a lot about family all year. When bad things happen, we can pull each other up instead of pointing fingers," North Johnston coach David Bagwell said. "We've got a lot of heart on this team."
Weldon's Fredia Riggins (34) blocks the shot of North Johnston's Helen Moore. Moore went on to foul Riggins as she was headed for a breakaway layup. Watching the action is the Lady Panthers' Amanda Pope (12).
Eventually, North Johnston (23-6) fell 64-52, marking the second-straight year Weldon (21-1) has knocked the Lady Panthers out of the playoffs. Despite their shortcomings on the stat sheet, North Johnston showed the poise of a tested team and never found themselves out of the game.
The Panthers' Helen Moore scored a career-high 34 points, despite making just 10-of-27 from the foul line. In the second half, Moore was nearly unstoppable when she took feeds in the low post. The junior forward scored 21 points after intermission as the Panthers were able to take the lead at 36-35 late in the third period.
On several occasions, Moore benefited from point guard Lakisha McFadden's ability to beat the Weldon press and took passes over the top of the defense and finished for easy transition baskets.
"We knew coming in that she was awesome inside and we certainly wanted to do a better job defending her," Weldon coach Grady Williams said. "That's the sign of a good player, they always work to find a way. She's a team leader."
Paced by the guard play of Monye Fauntleroy, who scored a team-high 28 points, and Shequanta McGee, Weldon went into the fourth period with a 44-40 lead.
Moore, who shot significantly better from the stripe in the second half, knocked down one-of-two near the five minute mark of the fourth to pull the Panthers back to within one at 46-45.
The Chargers, who had also struggled through the game to find a consistent offensive rhythm against the poised Panther defense, then made their biggest push of the game when it mattered most.
A couple of untimely North Johnston turnovers -- mixed with some tough baskets by Fauntleroy and McGee, who spearheaded a 7-0 run in the fourth -- eventually put Weldon ahead for good down the stretch.
"We made a couple of runs. This group has never given up. Then again, we made a couple of crucial turnovers at the wrong time, which gave them a working margin again," Bagwell said. "We got some baskets off of their press, but I wish we would have got more."
In a game where both teams combined to shoot 69 free throws and committed 45 turnovers, offensive rhythm was at a premium against a pair of tough, pressing defenses.
Weldon shot just 28 percent from the field on the game as North Johnston managed just 33 percent shooting.
North Johnston finished at 16-of-40 from the line, while their opponents knocked down 15-of-29. The Panthers were especially cold from the charity stripe in the second, making just six-of-19.
"Thank God they missed those free-throws. A few of those go their way and this is a different ball game," Williams said.
The Lady Panthers' ability to control the defensive glass proved pivotal in keeping the game tight going into intermission as Weldon missed a number of easy looks near the basket. Janna Rogerson and Krystal Atkinson -- playing in their final games for the Panthers -- were instrumental in their team's ability on the glass.
Weldon will square off with the Carolina Conference's top-seed and once-beaten Farmville Central in the eastern finals at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Rose Garden. The Lady Jaguars ousted the Chargers in last year's regional final.
The playoff run marked North Johnston's 15th straight year in the postseason and its third trip to the regionals in eight seasons.
"I would have liked to have gone further, but if you would have told us at the beginning of the year we would have been in Greenville, I'm sure we would have taken it," Bagwell said.
2004 N.C. High School
Class 1-A Eastern Regional Semifinal
(at J.H. Rose HS, Greenville)
Weldon 17 16 11 20 -- 64
N.Johnston 15 13 12 14 -- 52
Monye Fauntleroy 6 4 4-6 28, Shequanta McGee 4 0 5-6 13, Tameka Davis 3 1 0-2 9, Gara Bell 3 0 2-5 8, Caral Bell 0 0 2-6 2, Fredia Riggins 1 0 0-0 2, Sherreka Turner 0 0 1-2 1, Aerial Handsome 0 0 1-2 1. TOTALS -- 17 5 15-29 64.
NORTH JOHNSTON (23-6)
Helen Moore 12 0 10-27 34, Lakisha McFadden 1 1 2-3 7, Krystal Atkinson 1 1 0-0 5, Amanda Pope 1 0 0-0 2, Brandi Brinchek 0 0 2-2 2, Janna Rogerson 0 0 2-6 2, Stefanie Jones 0 0 0-2 0. TOTALS -- 15 2 16-40 52.
Three-point baskets -- Weldon 5 (Fauntleroy 4, Davis), North Johnston 2 (McFadden, Atkinson). Turnovers -- Weldon 16, North Johnston 29. Total fouls -- Weldon 25, North Johnston 19. Fouled out -- G. Bell, Rogerson, Moore. Technicals -- none.
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