Photo: West End’s Isaiah Roberson (11) drives to the basket as Southside’s Hunter Sitz looks on during the Panthers’ 53-36 victory in the Etowah County Schools Basketball Tournament boys championship last Friday (Jan. 22) at Glencoe. (Photo by Alex Chaney)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
For Southside High boys head basketball coach Chad Holderfield, winning a second straight Etowah County Schools Tournament championship, first and foremost, was an island in an ocean of COVID-19 uncertainty this season.
“Just the fact that we didn’t know if we were going to have a basketball season six months ago and the fact that six weeks ago we didn’t know if we were going to finish the basketball season, the opportunity to make this memory is very special,” he said.
In the process, the Panthers extended West End’s county championship drought to 40 years by way of a 53-36 victory last Friday (Jan. 22) at Glencoe.
After the Patriots closed within two points midway through the second quarter, Southside maintained a double-digit lead from late in the first half to the final buzzer. Tournament MVP Taylor Carr finished with a game-high 17 points, including three 3-point baskets, while Michael Rich, Jr., contributed 13.
Gavin Knue’s 3-point basket late in the first quarter drew the Patriots within 9-5 before Southside finished off the period with a 5-0 spurt. West End started off the second frame with an 8-0 run, capped by Jacob Camacho’s basket at 4:35.
That was as close as the Patriots would get the rest of the way. Carr quickly knocked down a pair of treys, and the Panthers ended the first half with a 12 to 2 run for a 27-15 halftime lead.
West End scored only three times from the field in the second half as Southside built a 37-21 advantage at the start of the fourth period.
Pearce scored six points for the Patriots, followed by Camacho, Daniel Hawkins and Marty Wooten with four each.
Making the All-Tournament team along with Carr were Rich, Owen Wescott and Hunter Sitz from Southside; Camacho, Hawkins and Thad Pierce from West End; Blake Owens and Payton Wehrwein from Sardis; Drake Rainey and Kyle Patterson from Hokes Bluff; Braylen Smith from Glencoe; and Brett Scott from Gaston.
“Tonight is very special, especially for our seniors,” said Holderfield. “Michael, Hunter and Owen have stepped up all year, and even Chris [Lengyel], who suffered a season-ending knee injury in early December] being on the bench has been important.”