Messenger file photo by Gary Wells
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Senior guard Colton Morrison’s half court buzzer beater propelled Southside to a 48-46 victory over Etowah County rival Etowah in the semifinals of the Class 5A, Area 12 boys basketball tournament on Tuesday (Feb. 4) at Alexandria.
The Panthers (17-10) led 37-34 after three quarters, but the Blue Devils (9-14) started the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 43-37 lead.
Morrison (pictured above at right) drained a 3-pointer to cut the lead to three, but Etowah extended its lead back to six points over the next two possessions.
Southside’s Tommy Simmons connected on a 3-pointer to trim the margin back to three points, and Jordan Grantland stole a pass and took it in for a layup to cut the Panther deficit to 46-45.
After Southside forced another turnover, head coach Chad Holderfield signaled for a timeout to call a set play.
Etowah had a foul to give, however, and the Blue Devils fouled Chris Lengyel with just under three seconds remaining. Etowah called a timeout to set up its defense, and Holderfield drew up a baseline inbounds play to get Lengyel a shot. Lengyel was not open, so Grantland threw the ball to Morrison around half court. Morrison took a dribble and launched a step-back 3-point attempt that banked in off the glass to give the Panthers their first win over the Blue Devils since January of 2014.
The victory secured Southside a spot in the area championship game against Alexandria on Friday and a berth in the sub-regionals next week.
Lengyel led the Panthers with 11 points, while Morrison added 10, all in the second half. Taylor Carr chipped in nine points off the bench. Grantland grabbed six rebounds, scored six points and dished out four assists.