Despite not getting a lot of preparation due to restrictions brought on by the recent winter weather, the North Pike girls did not let that slow them down Saturday afternoon.
The Jaguars got 15 points from Jamey McDaniel and 12 from Amari Davis as they topped Purvis 51-41 at home in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“We haven’t played since the 5th, we had four days off (this week), we were able to come in to practice yesterday (Friday) and this morning,” North Pike head coach Laura Holman said. “I am proud of the way that they played. I wasn’t sure of what I was going to get.”
The Jaguars and Tornadoes went toe-to-toe for the first half of the first quarter, trading baskets while trying to get their defense settled.
Fortunately for North Pike, it would do so first, taking advantage of mistakes and inconsistent play on behalf of the visitors.
Davis led the offensive charge for the Jaguars, scoring in every which way with a field goal, a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.
“We came out and we were going back-and-forth and I feel like once we settled down, we shook off whatever nerves or whatever we had,” Davis said. “Once we got that, things started rolling.”
That rally started at the 4:45 mark when McDaniel connected on a field goal that was followed by 3-pointers from Gabbi Simmons, Davis and Amari Barnes. When the dust settled at the end of the first quarter, the Jaguars took a 17-7 lead.
The Tornadoes kept fighting, however, trying to get back in the ball game, but the Jaguars kept up their consistent play to take a 27-18 lead at the half.
About halfway through the third quarter a 3-point play by Locklyn Wilchynski gave North Pike its biggest lead of the day at 13 points. But the Purvis attack, led by leading scorer Elise Jackson, who had a game-high 16 points, narrowed the North Pike advantage back down to nine entering the final eight minutes of play.
Just a few minutes into the quarter, a Jackson 3-pointer, followed by a Bethany Johnson field goal, reduced the Jaguars’ lead to just four.
But a McDaniel 3-point play helped North Pike regain the momentum.
From there they knocked down key free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
“Our team just fought hard, didn’t give up and we got the win,” McDaniel said.
North Pike moves on to the second round where the Jaguars will travel to Quitman to face the Panthers on Wednesday.