The Northwood Academy girls basketball team ran into some tough opponents before Christmas to get a bit of a wakeup call.
Their response was on display in the Carolina Invitational from Dec. 27-29.
The Lady Chargers rebounded from a 1-2 showing in the Crescom Bank Holiday Invitational to knock off Butler High, Ky. 71-59 to win their division in the third annual event. They pulled away in the third quarter to lead by over 20 points before completing a run at the Hanahan site with a perfect 3-0 mark.
“We ran into some great defenses (in Myrtle Beach) and we really needed that,” Northwood coach Presley Singleton said.
The Lady Chargers won the Atlantic Division in the 64-team event. Each division had eight teams and each site hosted day and night sessions for a total of 16 teams.
Dacula, Ga. (Coastal), Bullitt East, Ky. (Island Div.), Mt. Tabor, N.C. (Palmetto), Porter-Gaud (Harbor), Heathwood Hall (Patriot), East Hall, Ga. (River) and Westwood (Battery) all won their divisions too.
In Northwood’s final, Wake Forest signee Amber Campbell poured in a season-high 42 points, including 20 in a third-quarter run that pushed Northwood’s lead to 55-34. She was named MVP of the division after also scoring 37 and 39 in wins over Mauldin and Greenville.
The senior guard, a standout for the Lady Chargers since middle school, averages 30.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Junior forward Ericka Martin (9.4 ppg), who holds an offer from College of Charleston, and sophomore point guard Katelyn Powell (8.6 ppg) are second and third on the team in scoring.
Martin leads in rebounding with 7.2 a game, followed by Campbell (6.2 rpg), sophomore Dee Heath (5.3 rpg) and senior Antoinette Davis (5.2 rpg).
Powell is out front in assists per game (4.9) and steals per game (4.2). Campbell is second in both categories.
Offensively, this is probably the best outside shooting time Singleton has had in her time at Northwood. Including Campbell and Powell, Singleton said she has five players that are legitimately capable of stepping beyond the arc and making 3-pointers. Campbell is at 46 percent from 3-point range for the year, followed by Powell at 35 percent and senior Eden Crowell at 33 percent.
Northwood figures to round into complete form offensively as post players Martin and Davis get more games together on the floor. In the first 11 games, that happened only twice but they were both available for the final two games of the CIT.
Singleton’s hope is for the defense to become stingier as a group in the second half of the season. Developing depth is another key, she said.
The Lady Chargers begin region play Jan. 7 against First Baptist at home before traveling to three-time defending champion Pinewood Prep on Jan. 10. They host Porter-Gaud on Jan. 14 and Hilton Head Prep on Jan. 17.
Perhaps the most telling date on the remaining slate is one at Heathwood Hall on Feb. 1. The Lady Highlanders, who put Northwood out of the playoffs last season, are led by A’Ja Wilson. Wilson is arguably the No. 1 prospect in the 2014 graduating class. She is a 6-5 wing being recruited by all of the top college programs.
“I feel like if we’re playing well, (state) should be between us and Heathwood,” Singleton said.