Photo: Southside High’s Savannah Nunn (right) drives to the basket as Boaz’s Savannah Wood defends during the Lady Panthers 46-33 loss in the Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals last Saturday (Feb. 15) in Jacksonville. (Courtesy of Gary Wells)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
The Southside High girls basketball team’s season came to an end at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum last Saturday (Feb. 15) after the Lady Panthers fell to Boaz, 46-33, in the Class 5A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals.
The Lady Panthers led 12-8 after one quarter but it felt like a lid was placed on their basket for the rest of the game. Boaz (21-12) took a 19-14 lead into halftime after holding Southside (15-13) to only two points in the second quarter, and the Lady Panthers’ shooting percentages did not improve in the third frame, either.
Southside hit only 25 percent of its field goals (10-40), 11 percent of its 3-point attempts (2-18) and 52 percent of its free throws (11-21).
Savannah Nunn led the Lady Panthers with 14 points and eight rebounds. The senior Auburn-Montgomery commitment connected on her team’s only two made 3-pointers of the game.
“Some shots didn’t fall early for us,” said Southside head coach Kim Nails. “We struggled at the free throw line. (Boaz) plays a 2-3 defense. They move well, but they kind of pack it in and invite you to take some of the perimeter shots or rushed shots. That takes away the consistent part of our game, which is more inside.”
Boaz led by seven points in the third quarter, but a pair of free throws from Macie Williams and a 3-pointer by Nunn with 2:35 left in the period cut the lead to 23-21. However, Boaz’s Katie Long connected on a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to extend the lead back to five entering the final quarter.
The Lady Pirates hit 13-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter to help keep the Lady Panthers from getting back into the game. Long had a game-high 16 points for Boaz.
“This is a very hard day for this group,” Nails said. “My hats off to the seniors first. No one wants this day to come. There’s one team in the state that goes home with a smile. You always want your last game to be your best game. It wasn’t our best, but I felt like we played hard. Boaz is a very good team.”
Williams scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in her final game for Southside.
Nunn, Williams, Kaylee Brown and Kat Rowe helped the Lady Panthers win four consecutive area championships and make it to the regional tournament in back-to-back years. Before last year’s trip to the regionals, the Southside girls had never advanced that far in the postseason.
“I’ve been very blessed with great teammates and my coaches,” Williams said. “It’s been a great run.”
“We’ve had some great coaching the past few years and great teammates,” Nunn added.
Nails said the first thing that stands out about this group of seniors is their character.
“Awesome people first,” Nails said. “I think when you surround yourself with great people – and they’re great girls – that’s what I think of first. This group has won four consecutive area championships [and] two regional appearances, [the] first in school history. They have built a foundation that has never been built before. The stones that they’ve built are laid strong and ready for someone else to keep building on top of.”