Panthers deny Rosewood's title bid
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 19, 2006 2:16 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- After seeing their team suffer a disappointing, 33-30 loss to North Johnston in the Class 1-A Carolina Conference tournament championship on Friday, Rosewood assistant girls basketball coaches Jennifer Cochran and Josh Smith wanted to make this simple point clear to their players -- "the season's not over."
Sure, it was the Lady Eagles' first loss against a conference foe this season after going 10-0 in the regular season and defeating Spring Creek in the semifinals.
But Cochran was quick to point out that Rosewood (19-4), ranked eighth in the latest NCpreps.com 1-A poll, must quickly put the defeat behind them as it opens up the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs at home on Monday against the Coastal Plains Conference's No. 3 seed, which is likely Lejeune High School.
"They've got a choice to either be on fire and dominate every team, which I think they will, or lay low," Cochran said. "I think we need to just take it and understand we've got some things to work out. They need to take this and get better each game."
North Johnston (16-5) will host the Super Six Conference's No. 3 seed, likely James Kenan, on Monday in first-round action.
In a low-scoring battle that saw the two teams combine for 48 turnovers, the Lady Panthers made one brief offensive spurt in the fourth quarter and got a handful of key stops, which proved to be the difference. Rosewood took a 29-25 lead with three minutes left in the fourth on a layup by Courtney Hill, who finished with a game-high 13 points, but that would be the Eagles' last field goal.
Keyed by a 3-pointer, then a two-point basket by Caroline Hines, North Johnston went up 31-30 with 1:12 left. From there, the Eagles had one crucial, controversial traveling violation with under forty seconds left and missed a shot near the right baseline in the waning seconds as Hines pulled down the rebound. Hines and teammate Stephanie Norris made one free-throw each to push the score to the final margin, but Norris missed the back-end of a two-shot foul with 1.8 seconds left.
After the miss, the ball hit the floor once as Hill picked it up and heaved a one-handed toss from well beyond midcourt. The desparation attempt hit the backboard, then the front of the rim and bounced out as time expired.
"I think both teams played better the first two times we played," Cochran said. "I don't think either team played to their potential tonight."
The Panthers' 14 points in the fourth quarter proved to be the highest-scoring quarter by either team on Friday as Rosewood (23 turnovers) and North Johnston (25 turnovers) never got on track on the offensive end.
After a competitive first-quarter that saw Rosewood lead 11-9 after a steal-and-score by Shanita Monroe, the second quarter was mired in a defensive struggle. North Johnston scored just one field goal in the second, while Rosewood tallied just one point on a free throw by Hill.
Smith pointed to early foul trouble and the inability to score on transition baskets as key reasons for the lack of offensive production.
"Foul trouble hurt us tonight with Clare (Narron) and Kasie (Braswell). We're a team that presses and relies on defense, and it's hard to pick up that tempo when you have your main players sitting beside you," he said. "We just couldn't get into that kind of ball we like to play."
After halftime, North Johnston went up 17-14 paced by five quick points by Shanice Williams, who led the Panthers with 11 points. Despite making just three field goals in the third, Rosewood used its own intense defense to keep North Johnston at bay and led 22-19 heading into the fourth.
Kasey Grey pulled down 15 rebounds for the Eagles, while Shanita Monroe added six points.
Brandy Holland and Hines added six points apiece for the Panthers with all six of Hines' points coming in the fourth.
Class 1-A Carolina
(at Kornegay Arena, MOC)
North Johnston 9 2 8 14 -- 33
Rosewood 11 1 10 8 -- 30
NORTH JOHNSTON (16-5)
Shanice Williams 5 0 1-1 11, Caroline Hines 1 1 1-2 6, Brandy Holland 0 0 2-6 2, Taylor Allen 2 0 0-0 4, Stefanie Jones 1 0 2-4 4, Stephanie Norris 0 0 2-6 2. TOTALS -- 12 1 6-13 33.
Courtney Hill 3 1 4-6 13, Shanita Monroe 1 1 1-2 6, Clare Narron 2 0 0-0 4, Stephanie Rhodes 1 0 1-2 3, Kasey Grey 0 0 2-2 2, Kasie Braswell 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 8 2 8-12 30.
3-point goals -- NJ 1 (Hines), RHS 2 (Hill, Monroe). Turnovers -- NJ 25, RHS 23. Fouled out -- Williams (NJ), Narron (RHS). Technical fouls -- none.
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