Pelham tops Calera to earn sub-regional berth

Published 10:29 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

CHELSEA – Pelham’s girls basketball team found themselves in a tight contest against Calera on Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the first round of the area tournament with the season on the line for both teams at Chelsea High School, but the Panthers closed the game out in impressive fashion to lock up a spot in the sub-regional round of the playoffs.

Leading by three with four minutes left, the Panthers knew what was ahead with a victory and didn’t turn back sinking free throws, hitting clutch shots and playing great defense to pull off the victory.

Pelham came out firing early in the game thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from KK Tomlinson, which gave the Panthers a quick 6-2 lead.

It didn’t take long for that lead to eventually swell to 11-2 before Calera finally started to get into the flow of the game.

Treasure Davis was able to spark the comeback effort early in the game for the Eagles by earning trips to the free throw line and went 3-4 in the quarter, while posting five total points. She was also helped by four points from Myesha Purifoy, as Calera put together a 9-2 run to cut the Pelham lead to 13-11 at the end of the opening quarter.

The second quarter played out in a déjà vu sort of fashion with the Panthers starting the period on fire. They eventually went back up by eight points at 19-11 thanks to strong play from Lauren Watts in the quarter.

After posting seven points in the first period of the game, Watts didn’t cool down in the second posting five more points.

Calera, however, started to see shots fall, which allowed the Eagles to set up their full-court press defense.

Pelham struggled to crack that over the next several minutes, while Calera started earning more trips to the free throw line and quickly got into the double bonus.

The Eagles shot 10 free throws in the frame, and while they only made five of them, that was enough to pull them within a point of the lead at 21-20 thanks to a 9-2 run.

A technical foul on the Eagles shortly after somewhat killed their momentum near the end of the half, but after Pelham went up 25-20 following the foul, Calera came right back with a made shot in the post just before the half to create the halftime score of 25-22 in favor of the Panthers.

The Eagles took advantage of not letting that technical foul get them down by more at the half by coming out in the second half and storming in front to take the lead.

Early on it was a back-and-forth start to the quarter, but Calera eventually took a 32-28 lead after two free throws from Makayla Amos.

After trading jumpers, Tomlinson came back to hit yet another big 3-pointer to cut the deficit back to a point. That was quickly followed by a big rebound and fast break opportunity that was finished off by a nice assist from Myriah Tate to Victoria West for a layup to give the Panthers the lead back.

One possession later, nearing the end of the period, West hit one of two at the line to make it 7-0 run for the Panthers and a 37-34 advantage heading to the final quarter of play with both teams looking to keep their seasons alive.

In two of the first three possessions to start the final period, Pelham earned trips to the free throw line, something that became key throughout the entire period.

The Panthers sank those first four free throws to gain a 41-36 lead, but Calera was able to overcome that, at least for the time being thanks to three points from AB Davis, which made the score 42-39 with four minutes left.

That, however, was followed by the final blow from the Panthers.

Pelham abruptly put together a 7-0 run in less than a minute in a close game to take a 10-point lead at 49-39 with a little less than three minutes remaining in the game. That 7-0 run was thanks to a layup from West, two free throws and a huge 3-pointer from Laci Gogan.

From that point forward, Calera was never able to recover, as the Panthers knocked down three more free throws and kept the Eagles from getting any easy or clan looks at the basket.

Tomlinson led the Panthers with 16 points thanks to four 3-pointers, while Watts added 15 points.

Tomlinson and Maggie Walsh were named to the All-Tournament team for Pelham, while both AB Davis and Treasure Davis picked up that honor for Calera.