Warriors win when it counts

The Pelham Panthers boys’ basketball team may have won the previous two regular-season games over cross-town rival Thompson, but it was the Warriors who won when it counted Feb. 2 by taking the dominating 64-45 victory in the opening round of the Class 6A, Area 10 tournament at Oak Mountain High School.

Unlike the first two games, the Warriors (12-16) opened strong offensively and defensively with a 19-2 run in the first quarter.

Pelham was able to add a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 19-4 at the end of the first quarter before going on a run of their own to cut the Thompson lead to nine.

The Warriors, however, were not done and added a pair of baskets to go into the locker room with a 34-22 lead.

“We’ve come out flat the last three games,” said Pelham head coach Joel Floyd, whose Panthers (10-17) fell behind Hueytown by nine and Calera by 14 in the last two games. “That’s some of us and a lot of them. They came out with a lot of intensity.”

The second half was all Thompson as the Warriors increased the lead to 13 at the end of the third quarter before cruising to victory.

“(Pelham) caught us off guard the first time around and they just beat us the second time,” said first-year Thompson head coach Patrick Davis. “But our kids believed tonight. It was win or go home.”

Offensively for the Warriors, Kenny Johnson had a game-high 19 points, including a thunderous ally-oop dunk that brought the Thompson fans to their feet. Josh Neville also scored in double digits with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Bernard Smith had nine points and six rebounds.

For Pelham, Tony Williams had a team-high 11 points, followed by Xavier Lacey and Tanner Rice with 10 points apiece. Rice also had seven rebounds in the loss.

The Warriors will take on Oak Mountain in the semifinal of the Class 6A, Area 10 tournament Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. following the Spain Park-Hoover semifinal match-up.