On Tuesday night, Phenom Hoops traveled to Pittsboro as Seaforth hosted Northwood. It was a matchup that the entire city and state was looking forward to. It was a packed house, which was a reminder of just how special high school sports are with fans in the building.

From the opening tip, Northwood set the tone on the defensive end, pressuring the ball and turning defense to offense. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back. Seaforth’s Jarin Stevenson would answer this 10-0 Northwood run with a 6-0 run of his own. But each time Seaforth seemed to make up some ground, Northwood would respond. Northwood led 21-11 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, one thing really stood out from Northwood. Often times when a team plays zone defense, the offense will take poor, quick shots. However, credit to Coach Matt Brown, Northwood was extremely patient against the Seaforth zone. They had multiple ball reversals, attacked the gaps, made the extra pass and got open looks. Northwood extended their lead to 39-24 at the half. Most impressively, Northwood assisted on 11 of their 16 field goals in the first half!

In the second half, Northwood didn’t let up. Sophomore Drake Powell had a big third quarter scoring 10 of his 26 points. Northwood was able to extend their lead to 57-35 at the end of the third quarter, and finished with a 72-42 win to open the season.

The game came down to both Northwood’s defensive pressure and ball movement on the offensive end. Northwood came up with 21 steals and forced several other turnovers. On the offensive end, they faced a zone for most of the game. Like I mentioned above, their patience on the offensive end to really make the zone defense work allowed them to get open shot after open shot. They finished with 21 assists on 32 made field goals, which in my opinion was one of the most impressive statistics of the night. Northwood is clearly on a mission to get back to the NCHSAA 3A State Championship game, and this time to win the entire thing.

Seaforth 42
Northwood 72

Seaforth Stats
Jarin Stevenson – 13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 2 steals
Chris Walker – 9 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist
William Perkins – 5 points
Noah Lewis – 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Lochlan Haddix – 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
Cooper Jones – 4 points, 2 rebounds
Will Little – 3 points, 1 rebound

Northwood Stats
Drake Powell – 26 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 9 steals
Max Frazier – 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals
Fred Whitaker Jr. – 12 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals
Jake Leighton – 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Kenan Parrish – 7 points, 6 rebounds
Gus Frazier – 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist

Player Standouts

6’6 2024 Drake Powell (Northwood) – Player of the Game
Powell was spectacular on both ends from the opening tip to the final buzzer, finishing with a game-high 26 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and an astounding 9 steals. Defensively, he set the tone. At the top of their press, he utilized his length and athleticism to disrupt the opposing ball handlers. He was getting steals on the ball using his quick hands and he was anticipating the passing lanes. He turned defense into easy scoring opportunities for himself and his team. Offensively, he was extremely efficient scoring 26 points. He didn’t force anything. Rather, he allowed the game to come to him and took the right shots. He scored from all three levels. He attacked the basket under control and finished strong. He got to the midrange where he elevates over defenders to knock his shot down. He also buried two three-pointers. What was most impressive about Powell’s game, was the fact that although he scored 26 points, he did so within the framework of a team game. He is extremely unselfish and constantly made the extra pass to the open man. Northwood will again be a favorite in NCHSAA 3A, and Powell will be a big part of that.

6’9 2024 Jarin Stevenson (Seaforth)
Simply put, Stevenson is a special talent. And it’s easy to see why. His combination of size and skill is something that you don’t often see from such a young prospect. He has already received scholarship offers from UNC, NC State, and Wake Forest. Stevenson had the first two field goals for Seaforth. First, he grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast for the euro step and-one finish. He followed that up by knocking down a catch and shoot three-pointer, showcasing his smooth, quick release like a shooting guard. He has the ability to score inside and out. He poise and patience on the offensive end is something that you don’t see often from a high school player, and even from college players for that matter. Against the Northwood pressure, he was often given the responsibility of handling the ball. He never seemed rattled against their pressure. He would make a move by a defender off the bounce in the open court, and instead of driving to the basket out of control, he would use his body to cut off the defender while keeping his bounce alive and sealing the defender on his back. This is something you see from a seasoned primary ball handler.

6’8 2023 Max Frazier (Northwood)
Frazier had a huge game for the Chargers, finishing with 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals. With the departure of Jarin Stevenson, this is the perfect opportunity for Frazier to step up and receive a boost in his recruitment. And last night, he made the most of this opportunity. He was extremely active on both ends of the floor. At 6’8, he has good length and athleticism. Defensively, he moves his feet well and utilizes his length to protect the rim. Offensively, in the post he showcased a soft touch and the ability to score over his left shoulder. He also had a nice reverse layup to avoid the shot blocker. He was active on the glass. The times where he didn’t come up with the rebound, he kept the ball alive for a teammate to grab. This helped Northwood create second chance scoring opportunities. More impressively was his passing ability. He made several passes that not many post players are able to make. He connect on a high-low pass from the elbow. Then later in the first half, he made a beautiful baseline drift pass out of a post move. Expect Frazier to have a big year for Northwood and be a pivotal part of their success.

5’9 2024 Fred Whitaker Jr. (Northwood)
Whitaker may have been the shortest player on the court, but don’t let that fool you. He is someone who you’d take with you to battle. The point guard is a fearless competitor and impacts the game on both sides of the ball. From the opening tip, Whitaker set the tone on the defensive end. He made it difficult for the Seaforth guards to handle the ball and initiate the offense without him being there to bother them. His defensive presence to start was rewarded on the offensive end, as he drilled back to back three-pointers to start the game. Later in the second quarter, he intercepted a pass and connected on an alley-oop to Drake Powell on the other end. On the offensive end, Whitaker played under control, took the right shots, and made the right passes. He didn’t force things, but instead allowed the game to come to him. He was able to attack the defense, get into the paint, and find the open man. Whitaker finished with 12 points, 6 assists, 5 steals, and a game-high 8 rebounds. As Northwood makes a push at the NCHSAA 3A State Championship, Whitaker will set the tone for this team.