By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Southside High dug itself out of a double-digit deficit in the second half en route a 44-41 win over Glencoe in the Etowah County Schools boys basketball tournament championship game last Saturday (Jan. 23) at Gaston.
A 10-3 run in the third quarter turned a 33-22 SHS deficit in to a 36-32 advantage, and that surge set up a hectic final eight minutes.
The Yellow Jackets managed only four more points the rest of way, but that was enough to take a 41-40 lead on Sam Holbrook’s layup and foul shot with 2:13 left. Those points were the first from the field for Glencoe since the 2:41 mark of the third period.
Meanwhile, Tristan Riggan’s basket with three minutes gave the Panthers (8-13) their first lead since 4:51 of the first quarter at 40-38. That turned out to be Southside’s final field goal, but Gavin Orr and Riggan both went 2-for-2 at the free throw line to make it 44-41 with 36 seconds to go. But the outcome was not decided until the Yellow Jackets misfired on a three-point attempt in the closing seconds.
“We’ve got a group of guys that are incredibly mentally tough; they just fight,” said Southside head coach Chad Holderfield. “We’ve been in a lot of close games this year, and there’s not a whole lot of quit in these kids.”
Riggan and Tournament MVP Ethan Arflack each scored 10 points, followed by Taylor Gidley with seven and Orr and Dalton Harris with six each.
Justin Barkley’s three-point basket in the closing seconds of the first quarter made it 13-8 in favor of the Yellow Jackets (12-10), and six points from Holbrooks in the second period helped Glencoe take a 25-16 lead into the locker room.
“The biggest problem we had in the first half is that we gave up too many offensive rebounds,” said Holderfield. “I felt that our guys stepped up and did a better job of boxing out in the second half. That really shored up our defense in not letting [Glencoe] get second or third opportunities.”
The Panthers fell further behind in the third frame, as a basket by Jeff Ford at 4:40 put Southside in 33-22 hole.
But the Panthers steadily chipped away, and six points from Harris in the latter stages of the quarter pulled Southside within 36-32 at the start of the fourth.
Holbrooks paced Glencoe with 16 points, while Ford and Pace Ozmint each had eight.
“Our kids play hard and they play together,” said Holderfield. “They’re a fun bunch to coach because you know you’re going to get a fantastic effort from them every night.”
Joining Arflack on the All-Tournament team were teammates Orr, Harris and Gidley; Holbrooks, Ford and Ozmint from Glencoe; Drew Scott and Jon Holland from Sardis; Hunter Grant and Kaden Moore from Hokes Bluff; Hunter Grant and Andre Little from West End; and Jordan Douglas from Gaston.