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Panthers win in Knight's return to DHC

122316WilliamKnight

William Knight

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Monday, December 4, 2017

His history with the D.H. Conley program made Monday night’s game an emotional one for North Pitt girls’ basketball coach William Knight.

The frantic final minutes and ultimate result made it a memorable one, as well.

Guard Nyjanique Langley made a contested layup with 15 seconds to play that was the difference in the Panthers’ 55-54 victory over the Vikings. The contest was the schools’ first meeting since 2014.

Prior to taking over North Pitt’s varsity girls before last season, Knight served as Conley’s JV girls’ coach for six seasons and coached alongside DHC varsity coach Samein Jones. Monday night was his first game at Conley against Jones as coach of the Panthers.

“It was bittersweet,” Knight said. “I’m very proud to come back here to a place I’ve been for six years and beat a good friend of mine. It’s bittersweet, but I’ll take the win any day.”

That win nearly got away, as the Vikings (4-2) put together an 11-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters to take a 47-40 lead with five minutes to play. North Pitt (4-1) responded with an 8-1 run of its own to knot the score, 48-48, with 2:41 left.

Mackena Batts’ free throw with 50.5 seconds remaining gave Conley a 52-51 lead and set up a frantic final stretch that saw three lead changes. Langley’s layup with 45 seconds to play gave NP the lead back, only for Batts to answer at the other end to retake a 54-53 DHC lead with 20 seconds left.

Langley, who finished with 30 points while battling the effects of strep throat, took the in-bound pass and motored down the left side of the court, making a contested layup with 15 seconds remaining that proved to be the game’s final lead change.

“I told them, ‘As soon as they score, hurry up and get it out,’” said Langley, who was NP’s only double-digit scorer. “They were running a box-and-one, so we just had to hurry up and get it out and push the ball.”

Conley had one more chance to grab the lead back, but that opportunity disappeared with a moving screen foul that was called with 7.7 seconds to play. Langley missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the other end, but Alyssa Kerns snagged the offensive rebound to seal the win for the Panthers.

Batts led Conley with 23 points and was joined in double figures by Jenna Wooten (12) and Kiara Johnson (10). The Vikings’ two losses are by a combined three points, and their 4-2 mark is a stark improvement over last season, when they lost their first five games.

Jones lamented his team’s missed opportunities, such as its 5-for-9 mark from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, but said he was happy to have his friend Knight back on Conley’s court.

“I was looking forward to it just from a friendship standpoint, just to see him in the gym again on the other side,” Jones said. “Other than that, it was just another game to me where we wanted to go out and play and compete. Win, lose or draw, we’re still going to be buddies at the end of the night. I’m happy for them, because they earned the win and they’ve got a quality team over there.”

BOYS

D.H. Conley 59, North Pitt 48

Conley’s boys never trailed as they bounced back from consecutive losses with a win over North Pitt.

Jahmois Barnhill scored a game-high 21 points and C.J. Johnson added 14 for the Vikings (3-3), who made just one basket in the fourth quarter but sealed the game by going 13-for-18 from the free throw line.

North Pitt (2-3) has lost three straight, all to Pitt County opponents (Ayden-Grifton and J.H. Rose). Nasqueonte Staton led the Panthers with 13 points.

JV GIRLS

D.H. Conley 47, North Pitt 10

DHC leaders — Nadiyah Randolph 9; Zoie Hardee 8.

Record: DHC 4-1.

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