Photo: Southside High’s Ziniah Hardy drives to the basket during the Lady Panthers’ 49-37 victory over Springville in the Class 5A sub-regional basketball playoffs last Monday (Feb. 10). (Courtesy of Gary Wells)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
For the second consecutive season and the second time in school history, the Southside girls basketball team advanced to the Northeast Regional Tournament.
The Lady Panthers knocked off Springville, 49-37, at home last Monday (Feb. 11) in the Class 5A sub-regional playoffs for the second straight year.
The hosts were stifling defensively in the first half. After building a 12-5 advantage in the first quarter, Southside (15-12) only allowed two points in the second quarter as the Lady Panthers carried a 23-7 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
“We came out early playing good defense in the first half holding (Springville) to seven (points),” said Southside coach Kim Nails. “We put them on the free throw line too much, but we took away most of their outside game. We really moved defensively. We really controlled the boards and didn’t give up second shots. I think it was the defensive effort in the first half that set the pace. We made a few shots, and it gave us a good lead going into halftime.”
The Lady Panthers extended the lead to 37-20 entering the fourth quarter, but Springville (13-14) battled back to cut the lead to single digits with less than a minute remaining. Abbie Talton hit a layup with 43 seconds and a free throw with 40 seconds left to trim the deficit to 45-37 for the Lady Tigers, but the visitors could not pull any closer.
Southside’s Kaylee Brown and Savannah Nunn combined for four free throws in the final 28 seconds to secure the victory.
Lynnsey Hunt led Southside with 11 points and three assists, and Macie Williams scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Brown chipped in seven points and snagged six rebounds, while Sydney Yancey scored six points and recorded three steals.
Southside will take on Boaz (20-12) at 9 a.m. this Saturday (Feb. 15) at Pete Mathews Coliseum at Jacksonville State University. A season ago, the Lady Panthers fell to Scottsboro, 52-37, in their first appearance in the regionals in school history. Scottsboro fell to Boaz in the sub-regionals on Monday after the Lady Pirates ended the game on an 11-2 run to secure a 49-44 victory.
Nails said she thinks her team’s experience from playing in Jacksonville a season ago will be beneficial when they return on Saturday.
“Every time you go (to Jacksonville), you’re more comfortable. The veterans who played last year will know what to expect, so I think that will be helpful.”
Nunn, a senior and Auburn-Montgomery commitment, said her teammates will be more comfortable after playing in the regionals a season ago.
“It’s really exciting,” Nunn said. “Having experience is going to help us not be as nervous. Our nerves were a big part of it. The goals are on the floor instead of hanging. The size of the crowd and the atmosphere of the gym were different than what we were used to seeing.”
Williams, who is attending Jacksonville State on a track and field scholarship, echoed Nunn’s sentiments on playing at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
“I’m excited because it will be our second time in school history to go,” said Williams. “As a team, it’s a great thing for us. I think (our experience) is going to help a lot with the atmosphere. We have experience already playing there. When you first come out, if you haven’t played in that type of atmosphere, you’re nervous at first. But once you get used to it, you’re good.”