Southside schools Moody, heads back to regional finals

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Photo: Southside’s Grace Ann Rose attempts a jump shot between Moody’s Tarryn Woodall (left) and Serenity Rutledge during the Lady Panthers’ 56-45 victory in the Class 5A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals on Feb. 15 at Jacksonville State. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger) 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Due in large part to a dominant performance from senior center Grace Ann Rose, Southside earned a berth in the Class 5A Northeast Regional finals for the second year in a row with a 56-45 victory over Moody on Thursday, Feb. 15 at Jacksonville State.
The Lady Panthers (25-5) will face Scottsboro in the regional finals on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 9 a.m.
“I thought to a degree that we executed our game plan,” said Southside head coach Justin Bowen. “I think early we didn’t realize how good several of [Moody’s] players were in person, and their speed was a problem for us. We wanted to limit their guard penetration, and in the first quarter [Moody] drove the lane pretty easily and got some layups. But once we picked up the pace, I thought that we settled in and took over the lane and forced [Moody] to take some outside shots. Offensively, we used a lot of pick-and-roll stuff that gave us some mismatches with Grace Ann and Laylah.
“Normally, we like to push the ball up the floor, but we knew how fast [Moody] is, so we wanted to control the basketball. We did a good job of getting steals and getting defensive rebounds so we could get set up on offense. [Moody’s] M.O. is pressing, and I think that our skill [level] prevented them from using the press too much today.”
The Lady Blue Devils (28-4) had little answer for Rose in the paint, particularly in the first half when she scored 13 of Southside’s first 17 points. Rose finished with a game-high 25 points along with five rebounds.
“We know that Grace Ann is a special player and that she’s tough to guard down low,” said Bowen. “If she gets a mismatch, especially against a guard, we know that she’s probably going to come out on the winning side of that battle. Plus, our guards did a good job today of finding those mismatches for Grace Ann.”
The Lady Panthers maintained the lead from midway through the first quarter on, but helped by 16 points from Serenity Rutledge, Moody trailed only 41-34 entering the fourth quarter.
That’s when Southside began to pull away. The Lady Panthers limited Rutledge to just two points during the final eight minutes, and a 10-2 run provided Southside with a 15-point advantage with less than five minutes remaining.
Davis helped shut the door by scoring seven of her 17 points during the final frame, and respective three-point baskets by Moody’s Jayla Whitsey and Tori Pyles in the last minute made the final score closer than the game turned out to be. Davis pulled down eight rebounds along with three blocks and three steals. Mallory Brooks added seven points, followed by Sarakate Yancey with four and Jovi Marble with three.
Rose made her presence felt early and often down low, netting 12 of Southside’s 14 first-quarter points for a 14-10 lead. Rutledge kept the lady Blue Devils within striking distance during the second period with seven points, but a pair of three-pointers from Davis late in the quarter helped Southside enter halftime ahead 29-21.
Rutledge’s basket with 90 seconds left in the third period drew Moody within 39-33 before Davis’ jump shot made it 41-34 after 24 minutes.
Whitsey added 12 points for Moody, while Tarryn Woodall added six points and 10 rebounds.
“I think the tough games we played earlier in the year, like Clay-Chalkville and Plainview, paid off for us today,” said Bowen. “We played a lot of our tougher games this year on the road on purpose, because of the environment. But ultimately, we had the attitude coming into this game of expecting to win as opposed to last year when I think we were just hoping to win, and I’m proud of our girls for that.”

 

 

 

 

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