For the second time in three weeks, Northwood Academy and Pinewood Prep met in boys basketball, but the second encounter, played Friday night at Pinewood Prep, was far more important.
The two teams met as part of the Rotary Roundball Classic with Northwood taking an 80-67 win in late December. On Friday night, the Chargers used a strong second-half surge to overcome a 14-point halftime deficit, winning 62-53.
The win Friday was important because it was the Region 2-AAA SCISA opener for both teams. Northwood Academy improved to 11-7 overall on the season while the Panthers dropped to 8-10 overall.
Not only was the matchup crucial in terms of region play, but the added emotion of the rivalry between the two programs made the win more special.
"It's a big game and our kids, especially our seniors, really get up for this game," said Northwood coach Anthony Houston. "This was their last game over here, and they wanted to make it something to remember. It's a good way to start conference play and any time you can win on the road, it's big."
Senior Tayvaughan Major paced Northwood with 23 points while eighth-grade forward Jamaul Edmonson added 14.
Austin McCray paced Pinewood with 15 points with sophomore Gavin Williams adding 13 points.
The game was a tale of two halves as Pinewood Prep dominated play in the opening half, taking a 37-23 lead. Northwood grabbed its only lead of the first half, 19-18, with 6:20 left in the second quarter but failed to make a field goal in the rest of the half.
The second half, however, was all Northwood. As Pinewood was struggling to make a shot, Northwood intensified defensively and dominated the boards. The Chargers out-scored the Panthers, 22-4, in the third quarter and led, 45-41, heading into the final period.
Northwood continued to dominate play, maintaining the lead and opening up a 59-47 advantage with two minutes remaining.
"We talked at half about starting strong and trying to make a little run in the first three minutes, and we were able to do that," said Houston. "It was all defense and rebounding. We were able to limit them to one shot, and we forced some turnovers and got a lot of loose balls."
In the girls game, Northwood had no problem improving to 11-3 on the season, cruising to a 56-21 win. Senior forward Erika Martin led the Chargers with 19 points while sophomore guard Jailah Melvin added 17.
Northwood limited Pinewood to only three field goals in the first half while building a commanding 32-12 lead.
Forward Tati Robinson paced Pinewood Prep with 13 points.
Northwood (62): Tayvaughan Major 23, Jamaul Edmonson 14, Ancrum 8, Jackson 6, Dwight 5, Roberts 4, Louden 2.
Pinewood (53): Austin McCray 15, Gavin Williams 13, Wright 9, Miller 5, J. Williams 4, Ray 4, Coaxum 3.