Messenger file photo by Gary Wells
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Southside High girls were reminded last Tuesday (Dec. 10) that 24 minutes does not a basketball game make.
In their Class 5A, Area 12 opener against Alexandria, the Lady Panthers enjoyed a nine-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
Over the next 12 combined minutes of regulation and overtime, however, the hosts managed only eight points while giving up 16 on the way to a 47-42 setback at SHS.
After Ally Gilliland’s basket with 44 seconds in the third quarter made it 34-25 in favor of the Lady Panthers, Southside (2-4) did not score again from the field until Kat Rowe’s layup with 12 seconds remaining in regulation. At that point, the Lady Valley Cubs led 41-38 following a 16-2 run, a stretch that included four three-point baskets.
Meanwhile, the Lady Panthers’ entire offensive output was Kaylee Brown’s two foul shots at 4:05 of the fourth period. Southside was forced to foul after Sarah Pelham’s pair of free throws with 33 seconds left made it 41-36 in favor of Alexandria. The Lady Panthers finally regained possession with 12 seconds left, and Brown’s two foul shots pulled the hosts within three points.
Southside quickly forced a turnover, and Brown found herself open in three-point territory. With three seconds remaining, the senior guard knocked down a trey to send the game into overtime.
“Kaylee knew we had to have that basket, and she nailed it,” said Southside head coach Kim Nails. “I was really proud for her for making that shot.”
However, Brown’s clutch basket turned out to be Southside’s last field goal of the game.
Alexandria took a two-point lead on Kameron Simpson’s jump shot eight seconds into the four-minute overtime session, and the visitors held the ball for the next three minutes until Southside had to foul. Jordyn Walker sank a free throw with 31 seconds left to make it 44-41.
Savannah’s Nunn’s free throw at 22.4 drew the Lady Panthers within two points, but Southside never got the ball back, and Alexandria went 2-for-3 at the charity stripe over the final 20 seconds to secure the victory.
“I felt like we had spurts of really good basketball, but we got caught up in situations that we didn’t handle as well as we should have,” said Nails. “Alexandria is a physical team that plays very aggressive on defense, and they controlled the tempo late in the game. We have to work on handling pressure, both mentally and physically.”
Brown, Nunn (pictured above) and Rowe each scored 11 points, while Lynnsey Hunt added five.
Kay Leigh Steen paced Alexandria with 15 points, followed by Simpson with 13.
In a physical first half, Southside raced out to an early 8-0 lead before the visitors cut it to 8-4 after one quarter.
Alexandria pulled within 12-11 midway through the second period, but respective baskets from Hunt and Ziniah Hardy and free throws from Brown and Rowe sent the Lady Panthers into the locker room with a 19-14 advantage.
Rowe scored seven of her points during the third quarter, and her basket at the 2:10 mark put the hosts up by double digits at 32-22. But Southside was outscored 25 to 10 the rest of the way, leaving the Lady Panthers with their fourth loss of the year.
“We needed to slow down the game when we had that double-digit lead, and we had some kids in there that hadn’t been in that situation,” said Nails. “So, we have to learn from that and handle it differently next time.”