By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Southside High girls basketball coach Kim Nails had a simple request for her team at halftime against Alexandria on Monday (Dec. 14).
Pick up the intensity on defense.
The host Lady Panthers (8-1) followed Nails’ directive to the letter, as Southside increased its five-point halftime lead to 22 by the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Valley Cubs never recovered from the above onslaught, and Southside to cruise to a 60-31 victory.
“We just decided that we were going to move and execute our defense,” said Nails. “In the third quarter, we started to play hard and upped the tempo on defense. We depend on our defense a lot to create some offense, and we were able to get some turnovers and turn them into points.”
The Lady Panthers experienced a slow start, coming out of the first period with a slim 10-9 advantage. Southside created a bit of cushion during the second quarter, but Bre Bradford’s foul shot just before intermission cut the lead to 25-20.
“We came out kind of flat and weren’t reading the eyes of the offensive player,” said Nails. “When you don’t move on defense, you make everybody look good, and Alexandria was taking advantage of that (in the first half).”
The rejuvenated Lady Panthers came out of halftime with guns blazing. Hunter Ashcraft’s basket at 7:40 ignited a 20-3 run that all but put the game out of reach. Blakely Alfred and Lauren Hunt each scored six points during the above stretch, helping to stretch the Southside lead to 47-25 after three quarters.
Alexandria managed just one field goal and six points over the final eight minutes, allowing Nails to clear her bench for most of the fourth frame.
Hunt finished with 15 points, while Alfred had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, including three 3-point baskets. Mallary Smith added nine points and eight rebounds, while Kelsey Patterson chipped in nine points and seven boards.
Nails pointed to depth as a key factor in the Lady Panthers’ early-season success.
“On any given night, anyone on our team can be the leading scorer. That’s really helpful, because there’s not a lot of pressure on any one girl to perform. If one girl isn’t scoring, another girl will step up. If I were playing us, I wouldn’t be sure of who I needed to stop.”
Kelsey Patterson and Mallary Smith each scored nine points, with Smith grabbing eight rebounds and Patterson seven.
Alexis Thompson and Hunter Ashcraft each chipped in five points, with Ashcraft pulling down six rebounds.