Photo: Glencoe High’s Abby Vice (5) attempts a shot as Southside’s Harley Simmons defends during the Lady Panthers’ 56-45 victory in the Etowah County girls high school basketball tournament championship on Saturday (Jan. 20) at Hokes Bluff. (Gary Wells)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Class 6A, No. 5 Southside claimed its first county championship in school history with a 56-45 victory over Class 3A, No. 9 Glencoe in the finals of the Etowah County girls high school basketball tournament on Saturday (Jan. 20) at Hokes Bluff.
Both teams exchanged leads throughout the first three quarters, but the Lady Panthers went on a 15-0 run and took control of the game in the fourth quarter.
Junior Lauren Hunt sparked the run as she scored 16 of her game-high 22 points in the second half, including a three-pointer as time expired in the third quarter. Hunt was named MVP of the tournament.
Southside (17-1) was in control for most of the first half and led 17-11 after the first quarter. A three-point basket from Kenzi Duncan pushed the lead to nine, but the Lady Yellow Jackets methodically erased the deficit before halftime. Anna Beth Giles and Lauren Cole each helped Glencoe get back into the game, and Cole grabbed a rebound and hit a layup as time expired to tie the game at 25 heading into the locker room.
Glencoe took its first lead of the game early in the third quarter on a bucket from Cole, and the Lady Jackets led by as many as four points before the Lady Panthers evened the score at the end of the quarter. Glencoe was ahead 36-33 when Southside guard Adrianna Jones found Hunt open for a three-pointer as time expired.
Hunt, Jones and Emilee Coker all helped extend the Southside lead to 48-36 about halfway through the fourth quarter. Glencoe drew within 48-42 with 1:41 remaining but a basket from Coker put the game out of reach with one minute left.
Southside coach Kim Nails said the 15-0 run was started with added intensity on the defensive end of the floor.
“The offense got going because the defense picked up the intensity,” Nails said. “When that gets going, it changes the complexion of the offense. We started attacking the rim and it opened up some outside shots, too.”
After losing to Hokes Bluff in the finals for the last six years, Nails said it was a “great feeling” to earn the first girls county championship in school history.
“It’s the first time Southside’s ever won the county,” she said. “It’s a huge feat for our school and our program. I think this will give us the momentum heading into the area.”
Jones, Coker and Alexis Thompson each made the all-tournament team for the Lady Panthers. Jones finished the game with 12 points, while Coker scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Lauren Cole led Glencoe with 13 points, and she made the all-tournament team along with Ashley Morgan and Anna Beth Giles. Morgan scored 11 points and had 10 rebounds, while Giles scored seven points for the Lady Jackets.