Panthers top Jags in matchup of top recruits

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER ­– The Pelham Panthers (5-1) defeated Spain Park (5-3) 64-60 in a thriller Friday night, Dec. 2 at Pelham High School. They game went back and forth several times in the game and the Panthers held the Jaguars scoreless on their last possession to get the win. The matchup featured two of the top recruits in the state in Spain Park’s Jamal Johnson, Memphis commit, and Pelham’s Alex Reese, Alabama commit.

“Tonight was a great high school basketball game,” said Panthers head coach Joel Floyd. “The atmosphere was terrific. It was a back and forth battle all night. You had two division 1 players competing along with several talented underclassmen. We are thankful we made enough plays down the stretch to pull out the victory. This was just the type of learning experience we needed as a team.”

Pelham started the game hot on an 8-2 run, but two straight three pointers from Jamal Johnson pulled the Jags to an 8-8 tie. With 4:19 left in the quarter, Reese made a layup to give the Panthers a 10-8 lead, but yet again Spain Park answered and went on a 9-0 run. They took a 17-10 late in the first quarter before Justin Allison hit back-to-back threes to pull the Panthers within one point at 17-16. The quarter ended with the Jags scoring four unanswered points as they took a 20-16 lead into the second.

In a back-and-forth second quarter that saw several lead changes off of three-point shots, Pelham outscored the Jags 19-12 in the half as they took a 35-32 lead into the half.

Pelham came out and extended their lead to five early in the third quarter behind some big shots and a dunk from Reese before Spain Park went on a 16-11 run to take back a small lead.  The two teams battled tightly with neither gaining more than a three-point lead in the quarter. Johnson had nine points in the quarter to help the Jags tie the game at 50 as they headed to the final quarter of play.

With 3:21 left in the game, Reese made a huge dunk after Allison lobbed the ball off the backboard and Reese slammed it home to give the Panthers a 61-55 lead. Spain Park clawed back into it again and only trailed 61-60 with :51 seconds left before they fouled Allison, who made his free throw to put the Panthers up 62-50. Spain Park had one more shot with 15 seconds left in the game, but Johnson missed a three pointer. Reese grabbed the rebound and was fouled immediately. He made both free throws with five seconds left in the game to put Pelham up by the final score of 64-60.

For the Panthers, Reese scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Allison had 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Rottier and Torman also had 11 and 10 points, respectively, to give Pelham four double digit scorers. Johnson led the Jaguars with a game high 31 points.