By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Class 6A No. 5 Southside advanced to the championship game of the Etowah County girls high school basketball tournament with a 51-25 win over Sardis on Thursday (Jan. 18) at Hokes Bluff.
The Lady Panthers started the game on an 11-0 run, and their defensive pressure forced several Sardis turnovers in the first half. The Lady Lions closed the gap to six points with just over two minutes before halftime, but that’s as close as they could get to Southside for the rest of the game.
Southside (16-1) led 23-9 at the break and quickly built upon that lead to start the second half. After back and forth scoring from both teams, the Lady Panthers found a rhythm offensively and went on a 17-4 run to extend the lead to 43-17 entering the fourth quarter.
Macie Williams scored five of her eight points in a two-minute span, and Lauren Hunt and Alexis Thompson each buried a three-pointer during the run.
Southside coach Kim Nails said she thought her team was rusty to start the game since they hadn’t played in over a week, and they also missed practice due to the bad weather the past few days.
“We haven’t had a game since last Tuesday, so you’re out of synch from not playing games,” Nails said. “I was glad we were able to get in a game tonight. Sardis came ready and did a good job and played hard. We’ve got to play at a much higher level if we expect a winning outcome on Saturday.”
Nails said her team didn’t create much movement against the Lady Lions’ zone defense in the first half.
“We moved very slowly,” she said. “We didn’t create much movement offensively, and you’re pretty easy to guard if you stand.”
Emilee Coker led the Lady Panthers with 10 points and eight rebounds. Williams scored eight points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Alexis Thompson and Adrianna Jones chipped in nine and eight points, respectively.
Alex Goldman led the Lady Lions with eight points.
Southside will face the winner of Hokes Bluff and Glencoe in the tournament championship game on Saturday, Jan. 20, in Hokes Bluff.
Nails said winning the county championship is always one of the goals for her teams entering the season.
“The county championship is always a huge battle whoever is in it,” she said. “You always want to win the county. It’s a big deal to the kids and the community.”