LAFAYETTE — It wasn’t evident by the way her Vikings played Tuesday, but Northside coach Gayle Montalvo could tell her players’ legs were tired from playing their fourth game in four days.
“We’ve been playing since Friday of last week,” Montalvo said. “This (performance) is nothing. You talk about noodle legs? That’s what you saw tonight. Noodle legs.”
Noodle legs or not, Northside continued its excellent start to the season with a dominating 72-43 win against visiting Comeaux on Tuesday night, giving them three wins in a four-day span.
The Vikings (13-5) were the beneficiaries of an outstanding offensive effort from freshman guard JaKaitlyn Matthews, who scored 24 points while also playing solid on-ball defense.
“She likes to give it to those upperclassmen — she’s a freshman, what can I say?” Montalvo said. “I’m trying to make her see that she has to cut loose and play ball.”
Comeaux senior guard Lauren Marker was just as prolific, but it wasn’t enough for a young Spartans squad.
Northside jumped on Comeaux early, rolling up an 18-6 lead by the end of the first quarter on the strength of some tough full-court defense, limiting the Spartans to just two made field goals in the opening period.
But the Comeaux offense woke up in the second quarter. Using a pair of 3-pointers by Marker and another by Sydney Saner, the Spartans cut the deficit down to single digits in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
A three-point play by Matthews looked to finally jolt some life back into Northside, but Marker responded by going coast-to-coast for a layup and the answer.
A pair of Marker free throws cut further into NHS’ lead, making it 30-23 with a couple minutes remaining in the first half.
But that was about where it stopped being competitive. Northside closed the half on a 7-0 run thanks to two layups by Matthews and a free throw by Tachiana Ledet. The Vikings went to halftime with a 35-23 lead and continued to build that lead in the second half.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Matthews and Ledet in the final minute of the third quarter pushed the Vikings’ lead to 20 points, then Northside opened up the fourth quarter on a 9-3 run thanks to a three-point play off a turnover by Matthews and a pair of 3-pointers by Ebony Jackson, giving the Vikings a commanding 62-36 lead with seven minutes remaining.
Matthews scored 15 points in the second half to help the Vikings pull away, including 12 in the third quarter.
“When she’s a sophomore, when she’s a junior, when she gets to be a senior, well they won’t be able to stop her,” Montalvo said. “She’s got the moves.”
The Vikings were deadly from long range in the second half, connecting on six 3-pointers.
“They were pretty much on fire from 3 after halftime,” Comeaux coach Jill Rowell said. “That kind of set us back. We don’t give up though, we fight until the end.”
Marker did her best to keep Comeaux in the game late, scoring 16 of the Spartans’ 20 second-half points to finish with 23.
“She’s a great player,” Rowell said. “She gives it her all at practice, she has good character, good qualities you want in your leader.”
Montalvo thought her team responded well to playing tired, but even in a lopsided win, she knows her team can play better.
“I’m very pleased with them. I know they’re tired,” Montalvo said.
“You saw a B performance— not a B-minus or a B-plus — their A-game was not there.”