Shelby County puts up 97 points to earn sub-regional berth, shot at redemption

Published 1:02 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA – Dominance is an understatement for what the Shelby County girls basketball team was able to do in the first round of the area tournament at home on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

The Wildcats looked like they had something to prove from the second they stepped on the floor against the Jemison Panthers with both teams seasons on the line, and it led to 34 first-quarter points to basically put the game away before it even started.

Ever since last year’s Elite Eight loss to Central-Tuscaloosa by a final score of 55-31, this Shelby County team has been on a destruction path to get back and redeem that loss to earn a spot in the Final Four, and with the dominant effort against the Panthers, the Wildcats are well on their way.

They were able to use that 34-point first quarter to propel them to an incredible 97-27 victory to clinch a spot in the postseason as well as the area tournament championship game.

Offensively, Shelby County’s offense declined through the first three quarters, but when you’re still scoring more than 20 points in an eight-minute span and a huge lead, that’s not a bad thing.

In the opening quarter of the game, Skye Knighten-Lilly, Maggie West and Nataley Whitner combined for 32 of the team’s 34 points with West posting 15, Knighten-Lilly posting 10 and Whitner posting seven.

Defensively, the Wildcats gave up one jumper and held the Panthers to two points to take a jaw-dropping 32-point lead at the end of one period.

Shelby County’s potent pace continued in the second quarter with Knighten-Lilly scoring 10 points for the second period in a row to total 20 by the half. She was also joined by seven more points from Whitner for the second quarter in a row, as the Wildcats scored 26 more points to post 60 in just 16 minutes of action.

Scoring at the rate of the Golden State Warriors, Shelby County’s defense helped the lead grow tremendously by limiting Jemison to nine points in the period, as the Wildcats took a 60-11 lead into the half.

Shelby County started the second half with five scorers posting four points, and the team scoring 22 more points, while limiting the Panthers to single digits yet again at seven points to extend the lead to a remarkable 82-18 ahead of the final period.

In the final quarter, the Wildcats closed the game out by outscoring the Panthers 15-11 thanks to the bench adding some valuable minutes to help play a part in the 97-27 victory.

Knighten-Lilly led the way for the Wildcats with 22 points thanks to eight field goals, including four 3-pointers, as well as a 2-2 mark at the free throw line. West ended the game with 21 points on nine field goals, including two 3-pointers.

Behind those two, Peri Clark added a third double-digit scorer with 10 points, while a total of six other players scored.

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