Reese shines as Pelham captures area championship over Helena

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

PELHAM–The Pelham Panthers had plenty of reasons to celebrate on Saturday, Feb. 11, after Pelham came away with a comfortable 67-53 win over Helena in the Class 6A Area 8 Championship.

The Panthers, who finished as the No. 1 ranked team in the ASWA 6A poll during the regular season, showed why they were worthy of that ranking on Feb. 11 in a complete team win over Helena.

Leading 21-17 at halftime, Pelham blew the game open in the third quarter as they outscored Helena 22-5 en route to the double-digit victory.

Sensational senior Alex Reese accounted for 11 of the 22 points for the Panthers in the third quarter and was a force to be reckoned with all game as he led all scorers with 29 points. After the game, Reese was presented with a basketball to commemorate his 2,000th career point as a Panther.

“When Alex comes to play we’re very good,” Pelham head coach Joel Floyd said. “He’s a difficult load both offensively and defensively and he had a mindset that you could tell in shoot-around this morning that he was a little more aggressive and he just came to play today the entire time.”

Leading 43-22 heading to the final quarter, Helena did not give up and fought back in the final eight minutes but the deficit was too much to overcome.

Helena outscored Pelham 31-24 in the final eight minutes but the Panthers sealed the game at the foul line making 16-21 free throws as a team.

Floyd discussed the third quarter and how the Panthers were able to blow the game open during that span.

“The third quarter we started playing basketball as opposed to thinking so much,” Floyd said. “We were thinking too much in the first half and that’s because of the great things Helena was doing to us defensively. We talked about things at halftime we wanted to do and we just did a great job of playing basketball and making plays.”

Pelham’s Justin Allison also finished in double-figures for the Panthers with 12 points. Eight of those points came from the foul line.

Helena senior Jon Brown has been a scoring machine for the Huskies all season and he finished with 22 points in the game. Seventeen of those points came in the fourth quarter.

Both Pelham and Helena will advance to the Sub-Regional round of the boys 6A tournament. Pelham will host Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m., and Helena will travel to play Paul Bryant on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.