By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
Southside High girls basketball coach Kim Nails had been wanting her team to play a full four quarters.
Unfortunately for Glencoe, the Panthers finally played a full game on Wednesday (Jan. 16) in the semifinals of the Etowah County Schools basketball tournament.
Top-seeded Southside got a balanced attack to pull away over the course of the game for a 61-41 win at Beck Field House on the campus of Gadsden State.
“We knew we needed to put four quarters together,” Nails said. “We’ve been kind of a two-quarter or three-quarter team. We were still kind of up-and-down and Glencoe does a good job and we knew they would be ready. It was a total team effort. Our hustle and defensive effort certainly helped the tempo of the game and got us some easy baskets.”
Those easy baskets came early for the Class 5A Panthers.
After staking the Yellow Jackets to a quick 3-0 lead, Southside (13-4) went on a 17-1 run to close the first quarter with a 17-4 advantage.
Haley Troup scored five of her teams point during that spurt, a theme that continued throughout the contest. Troup led the Panthers with a solid game of 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Southside eventually pushed its lead to 22-10, and that was as close as Class 3A., No. 10 Glencoe (15-7) would get until later in the game, when Laura Poovey sank one-of-two free throws with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter to get the Yellow Jackets within 50-39.
Just like earlier in the game, However, the Panthers had an answer, getting baskets from Molly Tucker and Sydney D’Eath, as well as a basket and a three-point play from Beth Allen Smith to push Southside’s lead 59-41 with just a couple of minutes remaining.
“We knew they were a good-shooting team, but the thing that got us was they got three 3s in the first half off of a loose ball on the floor,” Glencoe coach John Blackwell said. “I commend Southside for getting after the loose balls and being physical. I think they played more physical than we did and I felt like they hustled more than we did, which means Coach Nails had her team more prepared than I did.”
In the first half, Southside used those second-chance opportunities – what few there were in a hot-shooting half – to extend its lead to 35-18 entering the half.
The Panthers edged that cushion to 46-27 after three quarters and used their offense to control the clock. With the exception of the one run Glencoe made mid-quarter, Southside was never threatened. In fact, the Panthers got the lead up to 20 points at 43-23 at one point in the third.
“Our shooting percentage has been a little better,” Nails said. “That’s something, as a coach, that you continually work on. It’s good when shots are falling, but you better count on your defense, always.”
After Troup’s balanced game, Southside was led by Savannah Thomas’ 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Tucker had 10 points, 12 rebounds and two steals.
Smith had seven points, three rebounds and one steal, while Baylee Gilchrist had six points. Karri McKissack contributed to the Panthers’ stellar defense with three steals.
For Glencoe, Sally Tinker led the way with nine points.
Jordan Sims contributed seven points and Poovey had six points.
Southside advances to Friday’s championship game at 6 p.m., where the Panthers will play the winner of Thursday night’s game between Gaston and Hokes Bluff.