Photo: Glencoe High’s Anna Beth Giles (4) goes up for a layup as Southside’s Maci Williams defends during Lady Yellow Jackets’ 51-40 victory In the Etowah County Schools Tournament championship game on Jan. 17 at SHS. (Courtesy of Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Year in and year out, the Glencoe High girls basketball team is known for its tenacious defense.
The Class 3A No. 6 Lady Yellow Jackets backed up that reputation in a big way last Friday (Jan. 17) against Southside.
In the Etowah County School Tournament championship game, Glencoe (17-5) held the Lady Panthers scoreless from the field for almost 14 minutes on the way to a 51-40 victory at SHS.
Southside’s offensive woes – which included just one point in the third quarter – combined with foul trouble for two of its best players – helped the Lady Jackets build a 39-20 lead by the start of the fourth period. The hosts closed within seven points with just under two minutes remaining, but Glencoe held on to defend its county title.
Tournament MVP Ashley Morgan paced Glencoe with 19 points, including 16 in the second half. Anna Beth Giles added 13 points.
“We talked about in the locker room that defense was going to be the difference in this game,” said Glencoe head coach Jamie Barkley. “My girls have prided themselves on playing [defense] with their feet and getting their hands into the passing lanes. We caused some good turnovers and capitalized on them. That was the difference in that third quarter.”
It did not help Southside’s cause when starting guard Savannah Nunn was whistled for her third foul shortly before halftime and starting center Maci Williams picked up her fourth early in the third period. Both players sat on the bench for most of the third quarter and fouled out early in the fourth.
“That made for a big difference,” said Barkley. “We match up decently with them, but they’re both good ball players, and hat’s off to them, because they get themselves into positions to make good plays.”
Nunn finished with 11 points for Southside (8-10), followed by Williams and Kat Rowe with seven each and Lynnsey Hunt with six.
Southside head coach Kim Nails said that her team’s narrow 43-39 semifinal win over Hokes Bluff the previous night may have contributed to the Lady Panthers’ difficulties on Friday.
“Sometimes it’s hard to when you play really quality teams back back-to-back. [Glencoe] has a lot of length and can cover a lot of space in their zone [defense], which gave us some trouble. Ashley Morgan has a different gear than a lot of players, and she definitely was a spark in their defense. It also hurt us getting in foul trouble so early, and sometimes we allow the mental aspects of the game to play a bigger role than they need to play.”
In a back and forth first quarter, Nunn’s basket with 25 seconds left put Southside ahead 10-7. Rowe’s traditional three-point play at the 3:57 mark of the second period gave the Lady Panthers a 20-19 advantage.
That turned out to be Southside’s highwater mark of the game, as the Lady Panthers’ next field goal did not occur until Rowe’s basket at 6:15 of the fourth quarter.
In the meantime, Glencoe entered halftime with a 23-19 lead, and Morgan accounted for nine points of the Lady Jackets’ 16-1 run in the third quarter. Southside avoided a shutout for the period when Nunn sank a free throw with 51 seconds left.
Morgan’s two foul shots with 5:30 remaining in the game provided Glencoe with a 20-point cushion, but the hosts responded with a 16-3 run that pulled them within 46-39 at 1:55. Southside would get no closer, however, and the Lady Yellow Jackets soon raised their second straight first-place county trophy.
“Winning [the] county [tournament] when you’re in the middle of the pack in terms of size, it definitely gives you more confidence going into the area tournament,” said Barkley. “When you have nine [seniors] that have played together since they were small, it’s special.”
Joining Morgan on the all-tournament team were Giles, Gray and Abby Vice from Glencoe;
Nunn, Williams and Kaylee Brown from Southside; Maddie Smith and Bailee Latronico from Hokes Bluff; Kayley Dobbins and Madison Parker from West End; Jade Bonds from Sardis; and Alyssa Gargus from Gaston.