Panthers’ defensive attack too much for Hornets

Published 12:15 am Saturday, January 11, 2014

By JORDON SEMIEN/For the Reporter

PELHAM—Stifling defense was on display Jan. 10 as the Pelham Panthers girls’ basketball team pressured its way to a 26 team steals in a 53-22 win over the Hornets of Chelsea, and its first area victory.

The Panthers got out to a sluggish start as Chelsea raced to a 10-1 run to open play. A combined 10 fouls between both teams slowed the pace of the game, each racking up four team fouls within the first seven minutes.

Chelsea would finish the first with an 11-9 lead, and that would be the last lead of the game they would see. The second quarter saw the Panthers switch to a full court press, trapping the Hornets and forcing turnovers at a high rate.

Pelham’s Erykah Hall led all scorers with five points at the half; she would finish with 12 points and seven steals on the night.

The second half opened with the same high-pressure defense Pelham sported in the second quarter.  The Panthers’ trapping defense forced Chelsea into more and more mistakes as reached another five team fouls five minutes into the 3rd quarter.

The fourth period started with a Panther 10-2 run, pushing the momentum in their favor as the Hornets continued to falter, and leading to a 53-22 win for Pelham and their first victory in area play.

Chelsea’s Whitney Thorpe and Denise Niven would combine for 14 points for the Hornets, while Pelham’s Jennifer Brown notched seven points and five rebounds for the game. Chelsea’s Kalei Merrifield led all players with six rebounds, as Pelham’s Jordan Allison and Emily Jackson combined for 10 steals.

After the win, Coach Brown said that after watching his team’s slow start to the game, he challenged them to rise to the occasion. “I said come out and play like you want to play and they started pressing,” Brown said, “We’re a better team when we’re in the press. We can get out and get things going. That’s when we can create a lot of scores.”

The Panthers will hit the road on Jan.14 to face the Spain Park Jaguars as they try for their second area win, before squaring off with the Eagles of Oak Mountain on Jan.16.