Solid defense leads Southside past Lady Jackets

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Photo: Southside High’s Ella Knowlton (left) and Jaxon Sizemore battle for possession during the Lady Panthers’ 57-39 victory over Glencoe in girls basketball on January 4 at SHS. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger) 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

The Southside girls basketball team’s commitment to defense this season was recently summed up nicely by head coach Justin Bowen.
“Most of the stuff we keep up with statistic-wise is defense. We really don’t keep track of a whole lot on the offensive side. We try to get a lot of steals and then score off transition, so defense is where we always try to hang our hat. We’ve got a couple of girls who are already over 50 steals, and that’s because of how aggressive they play.”
The Lady Panthers (12-4) displayed that defensive intensity against Glencoe last Wednesday (Jan. 4), as a stellar defensive effort over the final 16 minutes resulted in a 57-39 victory at SHS.
With the game tied 27-27 at halftime, Southside allowed 12 points in the second half, including only three during the fourth quarter. The Lady Panthers held Glencoe scoreless from the field over the final seven minutes.
Sarakate Yancey’s basket a minute into the third quar-ter gave the hosts the lead for good, while Mallory Brooks’ 3-pointer at 1:52 made it a seven-point advantage. Kinslee Gray’s basket drew Glencoe within 41-34 at the end of the period, but the Lady Jackets managed just one more field goal the rest of the game.
In the meantime, the Lady Panthers blew the game open with an 11-2 run, and Glencoe got no closer than 14 points down the stretch.
Southside came up with 20 forced turnovers, including seven by Yancey. The Lady Panthers also had 25 tipped passes.
“We wanted to try some new stuff defensively in the first half, and we looked a little rough at times,” said Southside head coach Justin Bowen. “Glencoe fought hard and made a lot of shots, and we were getting kind of one-dimensional. So, in the second half we went to a box and one [defense] to try and shut down their best players. We pride ourselves on playing good defense, and I was just excited to see our girls be able to adjust and have a really good second half.”
Bowen pointed to his team’s depth as a factor in the Lady Panthers’ second-half surge.
“When you want to play as aggressive on defense as we do, you’ve got to sub a lot if you want to stay fresh, and we’re fortunate to have a good enough bench that we can do that.”
Jovi Marble paced South-side with 15 points, followed by Madison Shaw with 14. Brooks finished with eight points, while Yancey and Graceanne Rose chipped in seven and five points, res-pectively. Shaw and Rose each had six rebounds, while Marble distributed three assists.
Jaxon Sizemore led Glen-coe with 16 points, while Gray added 13.
The game was tight in the early going, with the lead changing hands seven times during the first quarter, which ended with Southside ahead 16-14. Jovi Marble scored seven points in the opening stanza, while Size-more netted eight points for Glencoe.
Southside led for most of the second period, but the Lady Jackets kept within striking distance with the help of a a pair of 3-point baskets from Gray. Sizemore’s put-back with 1:10 to go before the half tied the game at 27-27, which turned out to be the high-water mark for Glencoe.
The Lady Panthers now have more than doubled their win total from last year, when Southside won five games.
“It’s great to see such a big turnaround, and a lot of that has to do with so many girls being back from last year,” said Bowen. “We’ve got several seniors who contribute, and we’re really junior-heavy with all five of our starters being juniors, so we’ve got a bright future.”

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