Lions’ defense leads them to playoffs

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Giving up just nine points in the first half gave the Briarwood Lions’ offense plenty of relaxation and all of the breathing room they needed to pick up an easy 43-25 win over Sylacauga in the first round of the area tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

The win by the Lions not only set up an area championship with the Shelby County Wildcats, but clinched a spot in the Sub-Regional round of the playoffs as well, keeping their 2017-18 basketball season alive.

Thanks to five made baskets in the opening period, including an and-1 from Morgan Hutchinson, Briarwood was able to jump out to a quick 11-7 advantage as the defense was also keyed in.

It marked the start of four consecutive quarters where the Lions held Sylacauga to eight points or less, not allowing them to score in double figures in any quarter.

The best of those defensive quarters, however, came in the second period as Briarwood limited the Aggies to just one made field goal and two points in eight minutes of action.

Briarwood on the other hand had its best shooting quarter of the game to really take control of the contest.

Hutchinson was a big reason why as she had seven more points to give her 10 in the first half, while as a team the Lions hit five jumpers and went 2-3 from the free throw line to total 14 points and take a 25-9 lead at the half.

Not much changed coming out of the halftime break. Hutchinson added six more points in the third quarter, while the team posted 12 in the period and limited Sylacauga to eight points.

With the consistent effort on both ends of the floor, Briarwood had grabbed an impressive 37-17 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Maybe taking its foot off the pedal a bit in the final quarter of action, Briarwood scored just six points in the fourth, four of which came from Emily Scott.

While outscored 8-6, the defense still did its job and limited the Aggies to less than 10 points to preserve the easy 43-25 victory.

Hutchinson ended the night with a game-high 16 points in the contest, making six shots from the field and shooting a perfect 3-3 from the free throw line.

Sophie Muir-Taylor finished second on the team with eight points, while seven different Briarwood players scored in all.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com