The Tarboro Vikings led by one point at halftime, but the North Pitt Panthers fought back and outscored the Vikings by 17 points in the third quarter to pull away and defeat the Vikings 68-52 in Eastern Plains Conference action Tuesday night.
Tarboro committed 32 turnovers in the game which led to 24 points for the Panthers. The Vikings missed 12 lay-ups in the game which followed with massive amounts of mistakes.
"We played tough in the first half and fell apart in the second half and handed them the game," Tarboro head coach Craig Savage said. "The game is won and lost in the second half and I am disappointed in our effort in the second half. We dropped our heads and just gave up completely."
Tarboro had only five players to score. They were led by Maliek Hudson with 13 points, while Kelvin Jones added 12.
North Pitt opened up the third quarter on a 10-0 run before the Vikings scored a basket. After the Panthers last basket, Savage called a timeout and told his team they needed to get refocused. After the timeout Kebronis Bailey scored the Vikings first basket with almost four minutes gone in the quarter. After the Vikings forced a Panther turnover Quentin Roberson scored on a layup to cut he Panthers lead to 37-32. After the Roberson basket, the Panthers went on a 6-0 run before the Vikings scored again. North Pitt closed out the quarter on an 8-0 run to lead 51-35 after three.
"I had told the guys a halftime that we needed to stay focused, but they didn't respond," Savage said. "We came out and just dropped our heads after they went on the run to start the quarter."
Tarboro made a run in the fourth quarter, but turnovers hurt them during their run. Tarboro turned the ball over 14 times in the fourth quarter.
"We have to cut down on turnovers and careless passes," Savage said. "We are making to many mental mistakes that are giving our opponents easy baskets."
North Pitt took advantage of the Vikings turnovers and turned the miscues into 20 points. Tarboro forced 24 Panther turnovers, but only scored nine points off of the turnovers.
"We have a lot of work to do before we play in the Christmas tournament," Savage said. "We are going to first work on conditioning. Plus we have a lot of drills we have to work on."
Savage said the problem was his team got away from their offense and didn't continue to play team ball in the second half. Multiple times, the Vikings came down the floor and didn't make a pass and just fired up shots from the three point line which feel short and gave the Panthers easy opportunities to push the ball up the floor and score.
Tarboro has nine days off before they hit the hardwood again and play. Their next game will be Thursday Dec. 27 when they play the North Edgecombe Warriors in the Christmas tournament.
Lady Vikings 64
Lady Panthers 56
Nyasha Savage was the go to player for the Lady Vikings in their conference opener against the Lady Panthers. She scored 23 points and added five assist. She grabbed five rebounds.
Savage's performance gave the Vikings a spark as they defeated the Panthers 64-56.
"Nyasha played well for us and she was able to get to the basket a lot," Tarboro head coach Jamie Willoughby. "She got that going and her confidence level went up. She just turns into a different player when she plays like that."
Willoughby said that others have to step up and play like Savage did, because no one player steps up on a continuous basis. They don't have people on the same page on the same night. That is one of Willoughby's concerns.
Tarboro continued to have problems with turnovers. They turned the ball over 25 times, which led to 14 points for the Panthers. The Vikings turned their defensive pressure up and forced the Panthers to turn it over 26 times, which helped Tarboro score 16 points.
"We were fortunate to win because we beat a good team," Willoughby said. "I thought we played hard but we had some careless turnovers. I questioned if we had our mind in the game like it really needed to be."
Lisa Jones added 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while A'Jah Williams chipped in eight.
Tarboro led 31-27 at halftime. Savage carried the load for the Vikings in the first half as she scored 13 points in the first quarter alone. She only added two points in the second quarter, but the Vikings distributed the ball well during the quarter and spread the scoring out. Six different Vikings scored in the quarter.
In the second half, the Vikings began to spread the court out and used their offense to control the tempo. They used players slashing to the basket to catch passes and scored on lay-ups. Jones was a big part of the offense as she scored six in the third quarter.
Tarboro opened the lead up in the fourth. The Panthers fought back, but the Vikings pressure defense caused turnovers in the quarter which led to easy baskets.
"We wanted to spread the floor when they came out and played us man-to-man," Willoughby said. "In a close game we have to convert shots in that offensive set."
The shots Willoughby is referring to is lay-ups. The Vikings missed nine lay-ups in the game. They had three separate possessions where they had multiple chances to score under the basket, but failed to convert.
The Vikings will be back in action when they play the North Edgecombe Lady Warriors in the Christmas tournament.