Photo: Southside High’s Lauren Hunt (23) is pictured hitting the game-winning three-point basket over a trio of Pell City defenders in the Lady Panthers’ 45-44 victory in the Class 6A, Area 13 Tournament championship game on Feb. 7. (Courtesy of Gary Wells)
By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
The Class 6A, Area 13 championship game between Southside and Pell City on Wednesday (Feb. 7) appeared as if it was going to have a storybook ending.
For 31:59 of clock time the ending looked as if it was going to be Mary Denman Luker’s 32-point scoring outburst that would lead the visiting Lady Panthers to an upset victory.
With the game tied at 42-42, Luker hit a basket to give Pell City a 44-42 lead with :09 left. The host Lady Panthers (23-1) called a timeout to set up one last play.
With :01 remaining, Lauren Hunt hit a desperation three-point shot attempt from the corner as the horn sounded. The ball hit nothing but net, sending the Southside faithful home happy with a 45-44 victory and a second straight area championship.
When asked about the game-winning shot, Hunt replied, “I didn’t feel any pressure; I felt it was in when I released the ball.”
Pell City took an 11-10 first quarter lead and increased the advantage to 26-20 at halftime.
The score was knotted at 33-33 after three quarters of play. The game was back and forth throughout the final eight minutes, with neither team able to build a lead of more than two points.
“We finally won it at the buzzer,” said Southside head coach Kim Nails. “We have won a few at the buzzer, but never one in an atmosphere like this. We stepped up and did what we had to do to win this one.”
Hunt paced Southside 12 points, followed by Kenzi Dun-can with 10. Hunt, Alexis Thompson and Emilee Coker made the all-tournament team.
ThLady Panthers will host either Homewood or Ramsay in the subregional round on Monday, Feb. 12.