Pelham downs Helena, will advance to sub-regionals

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

CHELSEA – A fast start offensively and a strong close defensively helped the Pelham Panthers keep their season alive on Tuesday, Feb. 4, with a 58-41 win over Helena in the opening round of the area tournament.

With the victory, the Panthers not only won their seventh in a row, they advanced to the area tournament championship game and more importantly the sub-regional round of the playoffs, which will take place after the area title game.

In the 17-point win over the Huskies, Pelham was able to use a strong offensive start of 18 points to build an early lead, while then limiting Helena to just four points in the final quarter after pulling close in the third period.

The reason the Panthers were able to get off to a fast start was thanks to the offensive play of Myriah Tate, Laci Gogan and Emma McKenney, all of whom went on to finish the game in double figures.

Tate posted six points in the opening quarter, while Gogan and McKenney each added five to help Pelham post 18 first-quarter points. But more importantly, the Panthers stepped up to limit Helena to just eight points, which allowed them to grab an early 10-point advantage.

Pelham continued that trend into the second quarter, as the Panthers again scored in double figures after Tamia Nelson scored six points by herself to help the team post 13. On the other end, the Panthers again held the Huskies to single digits at nine points, which allowed Pelham to extend the halftime lead to 14 points at 31-17.

Coming out of the break, however, the Huskies made the necessary adjustments to try and claw back into the game with their season on the line.

Brooklyn Oden came out on a mission and posted nine points, while Kennedi Nobles had five and Montana Harris four to help Helena put up 18 points as a team.

That was enough to at least start a comeback, but Pelham’s offense still scored 12 points in the third quarter, which was enough to keep the Panthers in front by eight points heading to the final quarter of play.

Just as it seemed the momentum had shifted in Helena’s favor, the Panthers quickly squashed it in the final period.

While they struggled from the free throw line at times, they made nine of their 15 from the stripe in the fourth and more importantly, the defense shifted back into shutdown mode by only allowing four points to Oden in the quarter.

On a dime, Pelham had gone from giving up 18 points the quarter before to just four in the final period, which led to the Panthers closing out the 58-41 win.

Gogan led all scorers with 19 points in the win, while Nelson and McKenney each finished with double-double performances. Nelson posted 13 points and 10 rebounds, while McKenney added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Behind those three, Tate finished with 10 points as well.