E.A. Sports Today

Cold Panthers fall in final

Spring Garden held to 4 points in first half, falls to Keith

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM — Spring Garden got to the BJCC some 20 minutes early to get in some extra shots in hopes of sharpening their eye for the biggest game of the season.

It went well in warmups, but it was different story when somebody came up to defend.

The Panthers could not have picked a worse time to go cold. They were bottled up inside and out, made only 2 of 21 shots in a four-point first half and just couldn’t catch up, falling to Keith in the Class 1A girls state championship game 38-25.

“I thought we played a very good team tonight,” Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin said. “The best team won today. I thought they outplayed us for 32 minutes.

“We try to make teams do what we want them to do on both ends of the floor and we never did get that feeling on either end tonight. If that ball doesn’t go through the basket it’s ugly on that end of the floor.”

The Panthers (33-3) didn’t play bad defense themselves, holding the Bears to only 16 points in the first half. They just didn’t have any offense to go with it.

Keith’s bigs, Zykia Pettway and Dasheena Thomas, kept Panthers post Tykeah Rogers occupied and their guards locked down the perimeter.

The only shots the Panthers made in the first half were a backdoor layup by Payton McGinnis with 3:18 left in the first quarter and a layup by Madison Sides with 2:05 left in the first half.

“Four points in a half? I don’t know we’ve ever been in that situation before,” Austin said. “We were trying everything. The only thing we didn’t try was press and the way things were going so bad for us I thought trying to press real early might not be good either.”

It didn’t help the Panthers couldn’t get to the free throw line, either. They didn’t get to the stripe for the first time until 6:09 remained in the game.

Rogers did get back to her game in the second half and scored 16 points, but said she felt the Bears’ presence all day.

“It was a lot stronger and more aggressive than I’m used to,” Rogers said. “They fit across the entire paint.”

Pettway’s dominance inside was across the board. She scored 12 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked five shots. MVP Harriet Winchester led all scorers with 18 points.

After scoring only four points the first half, the Panthers scored seven inside the first two minutes of the third quarter, but then went cold again.

“I thought we were ready to make a little run at it and maybe we did, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the problems they were presenting for us tonight,” Austin said.

Keith 38, Spring Garden 25

SPRING GARDEN (33-3) — AJ Broome 0-2 0-0 0, Darian Gaines 1-11 0-0 3, Madison Sides 1-7 0-0 2, Payton McGinnis 1-2 0-0 2, Tykeah Rogers 5-13 6-7 16, Kerstin Bryant 0-1 0-0 0, Savannah Dempsey 0-3 0-0 0, Tiyonna Rogers 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 9-42 6-7 25.

KEITH (27-5) — Harriet Winchester 5-16 7-11 18, Ambreya Snow 1-4 0-0 2, Zykia Pettway 5-8 2-3 12, Dasheena Thomas 0-4 0-0 0, Shatavia moore 3-6 0-0 6, Jakyra Simmons 0-0 0-0 0, TyCeayonna Murray 0-0 0-0 0, Jakayla Pettway 0-0 0-0 0, Alyshia Boone 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-38 9-14 38.

Spring Garden 2 2 7 14 — 25
Keith 9 7 11 11 — 38

3-point goals: Spring Garden 1-14 (Broome 0-2, Gaines 1-5, Sides 0-4, Dempsey 0-2, Ti. Rogers 0-1); Keith 1-10 (Winchester 1-6, Snow 0-2, Z. Pettway 0-2). Rebounds: Spring Garden 25 (Rogers 7); Keith 35 (Z. Pettway 10, Winchester 8, Thomas 7). Total fouls: Spring Garden 16, Keith 13. Fouled out: Gaines. Officials: Cushenberry, Jones, Hughes.

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