In an already solid year for athletics at Orange, there are some teams whose dominance isn’t the least bit surprising.
Orange football went undefeated during the regular season, which was practically a foregone conclusion after beating Southern Durham 49-7 on September 23rd, midway through the year.
Orange wrestling is now 19-0 after winning five dual matches at the Havelock Duals on Friday. All that stands between the Panthers and a 15th conference championship is a showdown with Chapel Hill later this month.
On the other side of the expectations aisle are the Orange girls basketball team, who are now 15-0 after beating Cedar Ridge 59-43.
Not only have the Lady Panthers surpassed last year’s win total, they’re one win away from doubling it (8-17 in 2015-16).
The previous three years, they won 19 games. They’ve already secured its first winning season since 2009-10, when they went 12-11 under Don Herbert.
Perhaps it’s just a team that has come of age. Starters Kaylen Campbell, Mia Davidson, Bethlyn Early, Jazlyn Watson are all seniors, as are reserves Enzyah Holt, MaryBeth Dobbins, and Adalyn Fleming.
Playing its second game in 19 hours on Saturday, the Panthers used its depth to wear down Cedar Ridge. Davidson, who never saw a rebound she couldn’t contest, led Orange with 12 pints. Campbell added eleven, while Icez Barnett came off the bench for nine.
Cedar Ridge was shackled by foul trouble in a game that had no less than four players report to the locker room for various injuries in the first half. Late in the second quarter, Red Wolves leading scorer Carrie Davis suffered a cut over her left eye after colliding with Holt for a loose ball. Miniature drops of blood were scattered across the floor, causing a five-minute delay where Orange principal Eric Yarbrough and athletic director Mark McCauley wiping up the hardwood with paper towels.
CRHS’s Yolanda Simpson suffered a bloody nose during a similar scrum in the first quarter, while Orange’s Grace Dively limped off the floor after getting tangled up going for a rebound.
Cedar Ridge opened with a 3-1 lead, but Orange used its depth to quickly take the lead for the game’s duration. Barnett, Holt and Janae Myers all came off the bench to score field goals as Orange led 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Leading 29-20 at the half, the Panthers kept the lead in double digits after Davidson notched eight points in the third quarter. Campbell, who averages 12.9 point per game but was held without a field goal in the first half, scored nine points in the second half. Orange’s bench out scored Cedar Ridge’s 19-9.
Madison Wardlow, who couldn’t get into the flow of the game in the first half because of foul trouble, scored 13 to lead all scorers. Davis finished with ten.
Cedar Ridge (8-6, 2-3) goes into exams with its playoff future uncertain. Currently in 4th place in the Big 8 Conference, they host J.F. Webb on Thursday at 6 PM.
Meanwhile, Orange is tied for first in the Big 8 with Northwood, who is 5-0 despite losing three starters at the beginning of the season with torn ACLs. The Panthers travel to Pittsboro to face the Chargers next Saturday.