Chelsea advances to 2nd straight Sweet 16

Published 9:51 pm Monday, February 10, 2020

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – Last year, the Chelsea Hornets busted down the door by advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2001, and now they’ll be making the trip for the second year in a row after taking down Russell County 61-51 in a sub-regional matchup on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

The Hornets, who were coming off a thrilling comeback victory against Pelham to claim the area tournament championship, overcame another halftime deficit to pick up a win and advance to the final 16 teams.

This time around, Chelsea trailed by one at the half, despite leading by as many as 10 in the first quarter. But again, the Hornets came out and started the third quarter on a 14-2 run to storm back in front and never looked back.

In the opening quarter of the game, it looked as if the Hornets were going to coast to the win after jumping up 10-0 and 15-5 for two separate 10-point leads, but Russell County bounced back.

With turnovers from Chelsea, the Warriors fought back to within five points at 17-12 heading into the second quarter.

But that was just the start. Russell County eventually extended their run to 18-6 between the end of the first and midway point of the second quarter, which put the Warriors in front for the first time at 23-21.

The two teams went back-and-forth from that point until the rest of the half, but Russell County eventually took leads of 30-26 and 33-29, but both times, big baskets were hit by Jordan Parker to bring the Hornets to within a point at the break.

But like they did against Pelham in the third quarter, the Hornets came out with a new attitude in the second half.

Turnovers and poor defense in an up-tempo game were costly at the end of the first half, but in the third quarter, Chelsea left those mistakes behind.

The defense allowed just six points, while the offense was balanced with three players scoring at least four points, including two more 3-pointers from Parker.

With that effort, Chelsea went on an 18-6 run in the third quarter to turn the one-point deficit into an 11-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.

In the final quarter of play, the Hornets made five of their eight free throws and knocked down three jumpers to seal the 61-51 victory.

Chelsea was led by 18 points from Parker behind four 3-pointers, while Pressley Rains added 12 points. In all, six different players scored and all six had at least seven points.