LaShaun Banks has donned Northeastern and Pasquotank jerseys during his high school basketball career.
Just don’t expect the now-Panthers senior to hand his teammates a scouting report for tonight’s rematch between the cross-town rivals, played again at Elizabeth City State’s R.L. Vaughan Center.
The second matchup on the neutral floor is designated a home game for underdog Pasquotank, which doubles as the team’s Senior Night against the Northeastern Coastal Conference-leading Eagles (19-3, 10-1 NCC).
“I try not to tell people plays,” said Banks, who suited up for Northeastern last season. “If you tell someone a play, they will go to a specific spot.
“The thing about basketball is you have to improvise, and when you cheat up a spot, then a good player will pick it up.”
But improvisation might be one of Banks’ traits, since he couldn’t cite any specific reason for leaving Pasquotank after his sophomore year to make the 10-mile trek south to Northeastern.
He is one of two Panthers who recently played for the Eagles, as junior Da’Quan Alexander was on Northeastern’s JV team in 2012.
As for Banks, the move wasn’t for a different challenge, or a chance for extra playing time — he began playing varsity as a sophomore — or even making more friends.
It was just because, Banks concludes.
“I just wanted to try something new really,” Banks said. “People said you should come to Northeastern, so I tried it out to see how I liked it.
“I’m the type that always likes to try new things, so I just like new experiences. That’s all.”
Pasquotank coach Ray Burnham wasn’t going to object on the one-year switch in schools. He is glad to have Banks back to shore up a club that began the year with all new starters.
“He (Banks) played up on varsity during Christmas time as a sophomore, and then just decided he wanted to go to Northeastern,” Burnham said. “You can’t fight where somebody’s trying to go.”
Now the team’s second-leading scorer, Banks came off the bench for most of his NHS playing time, working for minutes alongside Eagles such as Aaron Carver and Kenneth Melton.
His decision to return to the Panthers might have been made easier behind a bevy of Eagles talent, which has guided Northeastern to the cusp of an outright NCC regular season title provided it beats 7-12 (4-7 NCC) Pasquotank tonight.
But Banks said his return to the Panthers was to reunite and graduate with lifelong friends. There was no ill will from either school, and he still stays in contact with Eagles coach Ronald Nixon.
It’s hard not to, since they live on the same street.
“They’re some cool guys and good basketball players of course,” Banks said. “They’ve got a good team, and they’re nice people. I still talk to some of them now. I see them around at parties and stuff. Usually, in a small town, when one thing happens, everybody goes out, so you see everybody.”
Northeastern withstood an early challenge from Pasquotank to win the first game 70-51 on Jan. 11, which only puts more on tonight’s season finale for the senior, who knows bragging rights are still there for the Panthers to take.
Plus, he heard the postgame comments last month from his former NHS teammates.
“The drive to win is way more now,” Banks said. “The first time they beat us, I heard from some of them, ‘You should’ve stayed.’ But it’s all fun and games.
“It’s already a big stage. You know we’ll play extra hard, and the first time we played we could’ve beat them, so I think we’ll have a better game.”
NORTHEASTERN VS. PASQUOTANK GIRLS
Pasquotank’s girls (19-1, 11-0 NCC) have wrapped up the No. 1 seed for next week’s NCC Tournament regardless of tonight’s result, but the Lady Eagles want more than revenge for losing 50-43 in the first meeting.
A Northeastern (16-6, 9-2 NCC) win would give it sole possession of second-place, but a loss and Bertie victory against Hertford would create a tie, broken by a coin flip during Saturday morning’s coaches meeting.
Led by 1,000-point career scorer Mikeara Jordan at guard, who averages 18 points a game, the Lady Panthers are No. 6 in the latest NCPreps.com state 2A girls poll. Chelsey Elliott has taken care of Pasquotank’s interior play, scoring 10 and averaging 12 rebounds per game.
The Lady Eagles haven’t lost in NCC play since falling to the Lady Panthers, and have won eight-straight. A combined effort from Te’a Moore-Carver, Aleah McNeal and Corvonne Griffin have made up for the absence of injured starter Taylor Jernigan.
Kiana Rivers leads the team in rebounds with 11 a game.