Photo: Etowah’s DeRickey Wright (left) drives against Southside’s Tommy Simmons during the Blue Devils’ 71-44 win in boys basketball last Tuesday (Jan. 8) in Attalla. (Courtesy of Ragan White Photography)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Southside paid the price for too many mistakes against county neighbor and Class 5A, Area 11 rival Etowah last Tuesday (Jan. 8).
Blue Devils turned 17 Panther turnovers into 16 points on the way to a 71-44 win in boys basketball in Attalla.
Etowah, who improved to 12-6 overall and 2-0 in area action, pulled away in the second quarter, outscoring the visitors 28 to 14. Nine of those points came at the free throw line, where the hosts took advantage of 12 Southside fouls.
The Panthers (6-12, 0-2) narrowed the gap to 11 points midway through the third quarter but the Blue Devils held Southside to nine points over the final eight minutes on the way to their 27-point margin of victory.
Etowah head coach James Graves noted that his squad began to take control of the game early on the second quarter.
“[Southside] has three or four guys that line up around the perimeter, and if you leave them [open], they can make shots. We had to make sure that we stayed close to them and make them put [the ball] on the floor. Our second group struggled a little bit early on and [Southside] made a run, but we shot the ball really well in the second quarter. We had four or five turnovers in a row off our pressure and then made our shots and were able to stretch out our lead. We made a few 3’s, and Jamin did what he does down [in the post] and scored some easy baskets.”
Graves also was pleased with his team’s 11-for-13 performance from the foul line.
“That’s always a plus for us. We’ve been shooting free throws better, and that makes us better as a team.”
Graves also believed that his team had the edge in conditioning down the stretch.
“That’s always our goal, because we have a lot of kids who deserve to play. A lot of teams don’t have 14 or 15 kids they can run out like we do, so that definitely helps us late in games. The other team starts feeling fatigued about midway through the third quarter, and you see their kids not make the shots that went in earlier on.”
The Panthers did have a 37 to 31 edge in rebounds.
Brady Troup paced Etowah with 16 points, including four 3-point baskets. Graham finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Trent Davis scored 10 points, while Taylor Berry added eight.
Southside head coach Chad Holderfield acknowledged that the Blue Devils visited the charity stripe far too often in the first half for the Panthers to overcome.
“I felt like the second quarter kind of got us. We had to play some guys in positions that they’re not used to playing because we had so many guys in foul trouble. We had a lot of good shots in the first half that didn’t go in, but give credit to Etowah; they’ve got a really good basketball team. But I was really proud of my guys for battling.”
In a back-and-fourth first quarter, Etowah took a 7-2 lead before Southside drew within 9-6.
The visitors kept pace early in the second period, closing the gap to 10-9, 12-11 and 16-13 before the Blue Devils started to pull away. DeRickey Wright’s basket at 3:12 gave the hosts a double-digit lead for good, and the hosts ended the half with a 15-5 run that resulted in a 37-20 advantage at halftime.
Tommy Simmons’ three-pointer at the 3:35 mark of the third quarter trimmed the deficit to 11 points, Troup’s trey with five seconds left made it 50-35 in favor of Etowah.
While the Blue Devils put up 21 points in the fourth quarter, Southside managed only two field goals, none over the final 2:45.
Brock Habyan led the Panthers with 13 points, while Blake Habyan contributed points and 15 rebounds.
“We’re 2-0 on the area, so we’re on the right track,” said Graves. “Hopefully we can do what we’re supposed to do the rest of the way.”