For the third time in five seasons, the Northwood Temple Academy girls are state basketball champions.
The Eagles brought home this season’s North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A title with a convincing 70-57 win over Neuse Christian in the championship game at Forsyth Country Day.
They ended the season with a 22-5 record.
Head coach Donald Moore credited the team’s conditioning and everyone buying into playing a specific role as keys to the championship.
“It wasn’t just one person,’’ he said. “We have one person leading in scoring (Ciara Moore), one in rebounding (Shenell Davis) and one in blocks (Arielle Wilson). It was a team effort.’’
It all started with a long off-season where Moore focused on strength and conditioning, then continued with a tough non-conference schedule in regular season to prepare the Eagles for the run to the championship.
“We were able to find out what we were weak in and the areas we needed to improve,’’ Moore said of the non-conference schedule.
In the state semifinal round, the Eagles scored a 68-57 win over the Burlington School that wasn’t as easy as the score might indicate.
“We were down most of the game,’’ Moore said. “Arielle and Ciara got in foul trouble.’’ With them sitting on the bench, Kendal Moore stepped up. “Kendal kept us in the game in the first half and Arielle hit some big threes in the second half,’’ Moore said.
The championship game featured the best point production of the season for Northwood as seven players scored. Ciara Moore led with 26 points, Kendal with 19 and Davis 12.
“We were able to use our athleticism and defensively focus on stopping their two big scorers, two Brazilian players with a ton of experience,’’ Moore said.
Ciara Moore said the championship meant a lot after working so hard all season. “Kendal and I grew up together,’’ Moore said of her cousin. “We’ve been playing since we were five years old. It really brings a strong bond of chemistry, and it shows on the court.’’
Kendal Moore said the underclassmen like herself and Ciara wanted a championship ring for the team’s seniors. Already committed to play at North Carolina State University, Moore said having the pressure of her college decision behind her makes it easier to focus on playing for Northwood. “I know where I want to go,’’ she said. “I don’t have to worry about the schools contacting me.’’
Coach Moore only loses two seniors on this year’s team, Wilson and Davis.
His players don’t play a great deal of summer basketball, he said, but he’s confident about next season. “Based on how I saw some of the other players play this year, I’m looking forward to coaching next year,’’ he said. “We’ve got some good pieces coming back.’’
Photos: Front row, L to R: Valerie Veauthier, Morgan Smith, Kendal Moore (daughter), Ciara Moore (niece), Kaitlyn Jumalon, Megan Eaker, Head Coach Donald Moore. Back row, L to R: Shenell Davis, Jasmon Nolin, Ally McMillan, Arielle Wilson