By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
When Jamie Johnson was asked to sum up this season in one word, the Northwood girls basketball coach paused and said, “Encouraged. For some reason, we’re encouraged.”
It may be hard to understand how Johnson would feel that way after the Lady Falcons were soundly defeated by Edna Karr (New Orleans) 61-20 in the second round of the LHSAA Class 4A playoffs. Sitting courtside afterward, in an empty Northwood gymnasium Monday night, Johnson nonetheless found plenty of reasons to feel encouraged.
First of all, the Lady Falcons got farther than many people thought they would this year. There were disappointing losses, like Monday’s game against the No. 3-seeded Lady Cougars that saw Northwood go the entire third quarter without scoring. With the loss, the No. 19-seeded Lady Falcons finished 19-14. Edna Karr (22-11) will face Houma’s A.J. Ellender (19-4) in the quarterfinals Thursday night.
“This season has been a roller coaster,” said Johnson, who took over the coaching reins just six months ago. “There have been highs and lows. Like most things new, it has been hard.”
The highs included victories against teams the Lady Falcons weren’t expected to beat. Unfortunately, despite the winning record, the lows outnumbered the highs.
“Our girls faced a lot of adversity this year,” explained Johnson. “They went through three coaching changes in a year. Covid changed how we could coach and how we could practice. We lost starters to injury. Some players left. Overall, I think our production level surpassed expectations.”
Northwood’s 42-35 road victory over No. 14-seeded Pearl River in the first round of the playoffs was perhaps the biggest unexpected victory of the 2021-2022 season. One of the lows came Monday night when the Lady Falcons couldn’t find any answers against a faster, more physical, more talented Edna Karr team.
“It was almost like we forgot how to play,” said Johnson. “Tonight, experience got us.”
Experience, turnovers, and blocked shots. Senior forward Tatyana Barber, who led Edna Karr with a game-high 17 points, had six of the Lady Cougars’ double-digit blocks.
Taykayla Sparks led the Lady Falcons with 6 points, followed by Z’Kya Bell (5 points) and Lashundra Dulfield (4 points).
Karr got off to a quick start and an 11-0 lead before Emily Foster hit a 3-pointer to put Northwood on the board midway through the first quarter. Despite putting up a strong effort in the second quarter when Northwood was able to score 9 points, Karr – and the scoring deficit – was too much to overcome.
“They were physical and disciplined,” Johnson said of the Lady Cougars. “I’ve got to take my hat off to them.”
After taking a 33-14 halftime lead, Karr outscored Northwood 17-0 in the third quarter. Despite falling behind by as many as 36 points, the Lady Falcons continued to fight until the final buzzer.
“The bad days made us stronger,” said Johnson. “In the end, with all the adversity, I’m encouraged by how we bonded together as a team this season.”
Photo: Top – by John Penrod
Photo: Bottom by John Penrod