For now, the Seaforth girls are the big dogs in Pittsboro.
In this season’s second meeting between Seaforth and Northwood, the respective top 2 teams in the Mid-Carolina 1A/2A conference, Friday, the Hawks put on a defensive clinic to overwhelm the Chargers, 51-36.
Seaforth utilized a plethora of defensive schemes to limit Northwood’s offense, including half court zones, half court traps and full court presses.
The Hawks mainly kept to their half court zone to start the game. But with the help of two threes from sophomore Alyia Roberts and a working strategy to get the ball inside for layups and foul opportunities, Northwood found itself ahead early, holding an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Two things made the difference in favor of Seaforth during a decisive second quarter, though. For one, the Hawks turned up their defensive pressure with more presses and traps, and as a result, Northwood failed to score a single point in the entire quarter.
“We don’t really want the opposing team to get comfortable,” Seaforth head coach Charles Byrd said. “From time to time, we like to throw something different at them and put pressure on them (to) make them think.”
And while keeping the Chargers scoreless, Seaforth also buried its first quarter shooting struggles by finding offense in transition.
Whether it started with a steal or just a rebound, the Hawks got down the floor quickly with long outlet passes or coast-to-coast drives. Seaforth converted layups and open threes before Northwood could fully set up its defense and went on an 11-0 run in the second quarter, giving the Hawks a 21-11 lead at halftime.
Seaforth continued with the same formula in the second half, this time with more shots falling. After scoring just four points in the first half, junior Gabby White exploded for eight points in the third quarter alone by pushing the ball in transition and using her speed to blow by defenders for layups.
She finished the game with a team-high 19 points.
“Fast breaks, that’s how I play,” White said. “I like to get out and run, so I knew I’d have the advantage there. I knew at half court they were going to try to squeeze on me and make me kick, so I was just ready to make the right pass to my teammates so they could knock it down.”
Catching a lot of attention from Northwood’s defense, White’s aggressiveness also led to more scoring opportunities for her teammates. Sophomore Katie Leonard cashed in a couple of quick threes, scoring nine of her 15 points on the night in the second half.
“My teammates found me when I was open, (and) I was able to hit it,” Leonard said.
Seaforth built a lead as high as 21 in the game’s final minutes, and despite some desperation buckets from Northwood junior Natalia Whitaker and senior Skylar Adams, the Hawks held on to complete the season sweep over their cross-town rivals.
With the win, Seaforth remains at the top of the conference standings with only one more potentially challenging conference test awaiting at Southeast Alamance Friday.
Although they’ve already beaten the Stallions by double-digits this season while also solidifying themselves as one of the best teams in all of 2A, the Hawks aren’t taking any opponent, or any opportunity to improve, for granted as the regular season winds down.
“The biggest thing that I’ve been preaching to the girls all year is just taking it one day at a time,” Byrd said. “Just get better each and every day.”