Pelham gets past Briarwood on the road

Published 11:06 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pelham's Alex Reese grabs a rebound over Briarwood's Thomas Collier during the Panthers' 51-41 win. (Contributed / Stephen Schumacher)

Pelham’s Alex Reese grabs a rebound over Briarwood’s Thomas Collier during the Panthers’ 51-41 win. (Contributed / Stephen Schumacher)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Pelham picked up right where it left off at the end of 2015 with its first area win of the year and first win of 2016 over area foe Briarwood on Jan. 5. The Panthers moved to 11-6 (1-0) on the season with the 51-41 win thanks in large part to their defensive effort, but were also aided by a poor shooting night for a Briarwood team that hadn’t played a game in over a week.

“Any time you hold someone in the forties, that’s good,” Pelham head coach Joel Floyd said after the game. “There were certainly things that we missed, things we didn’t do that we had talked about. Their (Briarwood’s) shots weren’t falling as much as they do sometimes, because they had good looks from three, and I’ve seen them make those plenty of times. We got lucky on some of their missed shots.”

The biggest draw of the game, both literally and metaphorically, was the matchup down low between two of Shelby County’s premier big men in Alex Reese and Thomas Collier. Collier, a six-foot-seven-inch senior, has come on strong in his final season for Briarwood while Reese has drawn attention from the likes of Auburn and Alabama in his junior year. Unfortunately, there was not much of a chance to see the two go at it in the first half, as Collier picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of the first quarter and sat for the majority of the half.

With Collier out, Briarwood did an admirable job denying Reese the ball for most of the first quarter, but only managed six first-quarter points itself, and trailed 13-6 after one, thanks in large part to two deep threes from Pelham’s Mitchell Rottier in the opening period. In the second, Reese began to establish himself, scoring three buckets and getting fouled on each as well, and finished the first half with 13 points. Two triples from Briarwood’s Jeffrey Travis kept the Lions alive in the second quarter, and went into the half down just 23-16.

After a long rest in the first half, Collier went to work in the second. He scored six quick points at the start of the fourth quarter, all over Reese. However, two Justin Allison threes sandwiched between Collier’s buckets kept Pelham steadily in front. Carson Donnelley hit a triple for Briarwood as did Luke Dyson in the third, but Allison’s two big triples combined with eight more third quarter points from Reese allowed Pelham to extend its lead to 40-31.

Collier was the only Briarwood player to score in the fourth quarter. He hit three inside buckets, was fouled on all of them, and hit all the subsequent free throws and finished with 10 points. But the efforts of Allison, Rottier and Reese kept the Panthers in front in the final period, as Pelham got a crucial early area win.

“Teams are going to be scouting and know what we’re doing going forward,” Floyd added. “We have to be sound on the things we’ve been working on. Area play is a battle every night, and we’re in the middle of that right now.”

Reese had 23 to lead all scorers while Collier finished with 19 to lead Briarwood, 17 of which came in the second half.