E.A. Sports Today

Taking the fifth

MVP Rogers, Dempsey both go for double-doubles as Spring Garden’s girls win their fifth state title in convincing fashion

Spring Garden players (from left) A.J. Broome, Madison Sides, Payton McGinnis and Savannah Dempsey celebrate winning the state championship Thursday. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Spring Garden players (from left) A.J. Broome, Madison Sides, Payton McGinnis and Savannah Dempsey celebrate winning the state championship Thursday. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM — Not that anyone on the inside was complaining, but there was a reason Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin had his team taking “thousands and thousands” of shots in practice these last four weeks.

They did it, Austin said, “to make sure we could make shots when they counted.”

The Lady Panthers made every shot count Thursday as they routed Linden 64-38 to win their fifth Class 1A state championship and fourth since 2004. They opened things up with three straight 3-pointers in the first quarter and never looked back.

“I think every day in practice when we were doing our shooting drills it’s been very easy to be motivated and focused because it left such a bad taste how we shot down here last year,” Austin said. “I think they became students of the shot.

“They’ve watched videos on their shot and we worked really hard with them and put pressure on them to make shots. We told Madison (Sides) and Savannah (Dempsey) all week missing was not an option. That’s the mentality we instilled in them and they bought into it.”

The Lady Panthers (31-4) jumped on Linden (18-7) early and stayed there. They established their lead by matching Linden’s 2 with their 3s; at one point early in the game they were 4-for-7 from 3-point range while Linden was 4-of-17 overall.

It was a much better start than last year’s state final against Keith when they had only four points at halftime and shot about 20 percent from the field. The memory of that game was the singular driving force for this season.

“We came back here and (Austin) showed us video of our faces at the end of that game and said you don’t ever want to be that team to have that again,” tournament MVP Tykeah Rogers said. “I thought we showed up with that want that we weren’t going to be that team that would have those expressions.”

They went 22-of-48 from the floor in this game, 7-of-15 from 3-point range. Dempsey was 4-of-8 from behind the arc and Austin agreed her shot “really did change the game.” Her outside shooting helped open the inside for Rogers, who scored 17 of her points in the second half.

“I knew this was our last game of the season and I wanted to give it all that I had,” Dempsey said. “I knew if I played my best game and everybody who stepped on the floor played their best game then we would finish it.”

Rogers and Dempsey both had double-doubles. Rogers had 25 points and 14 rebounds, while Dempsey had 16 points and 13 boards. They had more rebounds combined than Linden had as a team (25).

“This game wasn’t about X’s and O’s, really, this was about want,” Austin said. “That’s what’s special about this team — just how bad they wanted this every day at practice and especially once the playoffs started. That’s the big story to me right now.”

Spring Garden 64, Linden 38

SPRING GARDEN (31-4) — A.J. Broome 3-6 1-2 8, Kerstin Bryant 1-1 0-0 3, Madison Sides 4-11 0-0 9, Savannah Dempsey 5-11 2-2 16, Tykeah Rogers 9-19 7-12 25, Katie Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Deana Lambert 0-0 0-0 0, Payton McGinnis 0-0 0-0 0, Tiyonna Rogers 0-0 3-4 3, Chloe Jarrett 0-0 0-0 0, Madison Jennings 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-48 13-20 64.

LINDEN (18-7) — Tomysha Boykin 2-7 3-6 7, Dajia Miller 4-12 0-0 8, Amber Richardson 7-18 1-1 15, Alicia Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Imiya Agee 2-9 0-0 4, Keira Phillips 1-5 1-1 3, Tameria Alridge 0-3 1-2 1, Tryoneshi Charleston 0-0 0-0 0, Anna Scott 0-0 0-1 0, Kiara Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-54 6-11 38.

Spring Garden 20 13 14 17 — 64
Linden 8 10 10 10 — 38

3-point goals: Spring Garden 7-15 (Broome 1-1, Bryant 1-1, Sides 1-5, Dempsey 4-8); Linden 0-6 (Miller 0-3, Richardson 0-1, Phillips 0-1, Aldridge 0-1). Rebounds: Spring Garden 46 (Rogers 14, Dempsey 13); Linden 25 (Richardson 9). Fouled out: Agee. Total fouls: Spring Garden 11, Linden 17. Officials: Darrell Hargreave, Marius Dockery, Kennith Booker.

Tournament MVP Tykeah Rogers fights through two Linden defenders to get to the basket Thursday. That was the want-to Lady Panthers coach Ricky Austin was talking about that drove his team to the title. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Tournament MVP Tykeah Rogers fights through two Linden defenders to get to the basket Thursday. That was the want-to Lady Panthers coach Ricky Austin was talking about that drove his team to the title. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)



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