It has been quite sometime since the Orange Girls Basketball team has earned a tournament trophy.

That changed on New Year’s Eve when the Panthers defeted Bartlett Yancey 51-38 for the tournament championship. It was the culmination of three games in three days which started with Orange continuing its best-of-73 series against Southern Alamance (it was the third time they’ve played in five weeks) with a 43-26 win. The following night, the Panthers defeated former Big 8 rival Cardinal Gibbons 55-43, its first victory over the Crusaders since 2008.

In their season-opening eleven-game winning streak, Orange’s victory over BY was certainly the most difficult. They trailed 17-6 early in the second quarter, their largest deficit of the season. Veteran Lady Bucs coach Lindsey Page flustered Orange’s offense by throwing a mixture of 2-3 zones, 1-3-1 zones, midcourt traps and regular man-to-man defenses.

While Kaylen Campbell justifiably won tournament MVP honors after scoring 18 points against Gibbons and 17 against BY, it’s likely Orange wouldn’t have won the championship without the contributions of Icez Barnett and Jazlyn Watson.

Barnett came off the bench to score 15 points and grab a season-high 15 rebounds. Watson scored ten points and registered eleven rebounds.

After wins over Northern Durham and Chapel Hill this week, Orange is now 13-0 heading into the most difficult week of the season (weather permitting). The Panthers, 13-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big 8, are supposed to play Northwood in Pittsboro on Tuesday, Webb on Friday and Cedar Ridge on Saturday. Of course, Mother Nature will have the final word.

Here’s Icez talking about winning the Holiday Hoopla championship and what’s ahead for the undefeated Lady Panthers.

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