Photo: Glencoe High’s Abby Vice (left) drives to the basket as Southside’s Savannah Nunn defends during the Lady Yellow Jackets’ 42-39 victory in the championship game of the Etowah County Schools Tournament on Jan. 19 in Sardis City. (Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The last time Glencoe High won the Etowah County Girls Basketball Tournament, Lauren Cole and Cami Zahorscak were third graders still learning how to shoot. The team’s two seniors were on target last week in helping the program end its eight-year county skid.
Cole and Zahorscak knocked down back-to-back three-point baskets in the second half that helped spark the Class 3A No. 8 Lady Yellow Jackets to a 42-39 title game victory over defending champion Southside on Jan. 19 in Sardis City.
Coming out of halftime with a 19-14 lead, Glencoe (14-7) went scoreless form the field over the first five minutes of the third quarter. That lack of offense allowed the Class 5A No. 7 Lady Panthers (15-4), whose last lead was at the 1:50 mark of the first quarter, to creep within three points at 23-20 with 1:42 remaining on Savannah Nunn’s layup.
But Zahorscak banked in a trey with 29 seconds left and Cole connected from downtown just prior to the buzzer to provide Glencoe with some breathing room.
Southside drew within three points on three different occasions over the final eight minutes but Glencoe went 5-for-6 at the foul line down the stretch to hold off the late surge.
Cole and Tournament MVP Ashley Morgan each finished with 10 points, while Zahorscak added nine.
Glencoe head coach Daniel Cook noted that Zahorscak in particular did a good job of stepping up when starter Anna Beth Goodwin got into foul trouble early in the second half.
“Cami has been a starter for us on and off during the year, and she played really well tonight as a senior.
Glencoe head coach Daniel Cook noted that Southside was somewhat effective on slowing down his squad’s up-tempo style.
“They knew our fast break and were keeping two people back, so we kind of hit it in spots tonight. But when they had the ball, we did a pretty good job in stopping a lot of their drives. [Southside] really had to work for what they got on offense tonight, and that’s a credit to our girls selling out on defense.”
Cole’s second three-pointer of the night with 3:13 left in the game made it 37-29, but the Lady Panthers responded with a basket from Kaylee Brown and a three-pointer form Nunn to remain within striking distance. Back in game with four fouls, Goodwin hit a pair of free throws and Ashley Morgan made a layup to make it 41-34 with 44 seconds on the clock.
The Lady Panthers came up empty on their next possession but Kenzi Duncan quickly came up with a steal, and her traditional three-point play narrowed the gap to 41-37 with 28 seconds left.
Southside was forced to foul, however, and Vice’s free throw wrapped up the win.
Maci Williams paced Southside with nine points, followed by Nunn with eight and Brown with seven.
“We had our opportunities but came up a little bit short,” said Southside head coach Kim Nails. “I’m proud of our girls for playing hard and giving us a chance to win at the end. We were playing from behind all game but we kept fighting. Hopefully we can learn from this and be a better team for the rest of the season.”
Vice’s three-pointer at 1:20 of the initial quarter gave the Lady Jackets the lead for good, and Glencoe took a 12-8 advantage after the first eight minutes.
Both teams tightened up on defense in the second period, as each squad scored just three times from the field. Goodwin’s three-point basket with 25 seconds remaining in the first half put Glencoe ahead at 19-14.
Southside opened the third quarter with four straight points before respective three-point baskets from Goodwin, Zahorscak and Cole put the brakes on an extended run by the Lady Panthers.
“We have a very rich history, and one of the things I always tell our girls is that our program was great before them and it will be great after them,” said Cook. “These girls have definitely done their part to impact their legacy at this school. One thing that the girls and boys programs at Glencoe has is that we’re all cut from the same cloth, and that’s the Donny Pruitt school of basketball – defense wins, and run the floor.”
Joining Morgan on the all-tournament team were Goodwin, Cole, Anna Beth Giles and Aubrey Gray from Glencoe; Brown, Nunn, Williams and Alexis Thompson from Southside; Kaitlyn Morris, Madison Langley and Kaylee Harraid from Sardis; Kristen Shields form Hokes Bluff; Sidney Oliver from Gaston; and Madison Parker from West End.