By Cole Frederick, Sports Correspondent
Class 6A No. 8 Southside secured the Area 13 Tournament championship with a dominating 77 – 37 win over Oxford on Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Southside.
The Lady Panther defense forced several Oxford turnovers in the first half, and Southside built a 20 – 6 lead after the first quarter.
Oxford played a zone defense for the majority of the first half, but Southside shot the ball well from the perimeter and generated multiple second-chance points from offensive rebounds. The Lady Panthers (23 – 3) took a 42 – 14 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“I think we hit a pretty high percentage in the first half. If you’re making shots, it certainly helps you,” said Southside head coach Kim Nails. “Sometimes when you’re more relaxed, you can keep scoring.” Nails said rebounding was very important for her team throughout the game. The Lady Panthers had 39 total rebounds on the night, including 13 on the offensive glass.
“We feel like if you control the boards, you control the game,” Nails said. “Offensive boards are the easiest points to get because there is usually a foul or a high-percentage basket. We want to crash the boards as much as possible. If you give yourself an extra chance at the goal, you’re just helping yourself out.”
The Lady Panthers came up with 13 steals and led 65 – 28 entering the fourth quarter.
Lauren Hunt led the way for the Lady Panthers with 18 points, including a 4-for-7 effort from behind the three-point line. Kelsey Patterson scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Tori Opdycke and Harley Simmons scored eight points apiece.
The Lady Panthers will host a subregional game Monday night (Feb. 13) with the loser of the Brewer-Fort Payne matchup. If Southside wins that game, they advance to the Northeast Regional Tournament at Jacksonville State University.
Nails said making it to the regionals has been one of the team’s main goals all season.
“In the big picture of things, one of our main goals coming in was to win the area, host a subregion game and get to Jacksonville, because that is something this team has never experienced,” Nails said.
“That’s certainly our goal. It was a very nice win for us. It’s great to win the area.”