Chelsea girls take down Briarwood to advance to sub-regionals

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – After a dominant regular season of area play, the Chelsea Hornets were looking to continue that stretch in the area tournament with the season on the line in a matchup with county foe Briarwood on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

But after Briarwood lost by a combined 47 points during the two regular-season matchups, the Lions weren’t going to go down without a fight at keeping their season alive.

They battled to a five-point halftime deficit at 22-18, but after halftime adjustments, the Hornets showed why they are considered a top-10 team in Class 6A.

Chelsea started the second half on a 6-2 run to jump in front by 10 points, which gave the Hornets the cushion they needed to pull away for a 50-33 victory and not only advance to the area tournament championship game but the sub-regional round of the playoffs as well.

The first half, however, was a much tighter battle between the two teams.

Briarwood fell behind by four points early in the second quarter when Chelsea took an 11-7 advantage, but the Lions quickly knocked down a 3-pointer to get within one.

But every time the Lions hit a big basket, Chelsea came right back with one of its own.

Sydney Schwallie did that for the majority of the night as the leading scorer in the game, and she followed Briarwood’s 3-pointer with one of her own to put the Hornets back up by four points.

That was followed by a basket and free throw from Ashley Washington to make it 17-10.

Then, Mary Dicen knocked down another crucial 3-pointer for the Lions to keep them within striking distance, which set off three consecutive possessions between the two teams with a 3-pointer.

Schwallie answered with one for the Hornets, while Claire Lehane knocked one down for Briarwood to make it 20-16.

But Mackenzie Titus ended the back-and-forth stretch with a layup off a pick and roll worked to perfection to and led to a layup in the final minute to put the Hornets in front by six at the half.

Chelsea, however, had started to stake its claim through strong defense, which led to success on the offensive end of the floor.

The Hornets started the third quarter on a 6-2 run and had outscored Briarwood 16-8 dating back to the second quarter, which gave them a 28-18 advantage midway through the third quarter.

Briarwood got five important points from Emily Scott on its next two possessions, which cut the deficit to seven points.

But Washington answered in a big way to end the quarter thanks to an and-1, which not only put Chelsea back in front by 10 going to the final quarter but kick-started a game-changing run.

Chelsea went on to start the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run in the first two minutes, giving the Hornets a 15-3 run dating back to the third quarter. To that point, the Hornets had outscored Briarwood 21-7 in the second half.

The strong stretch of play put Chelsea in front by 20 points, which became the final blow. Briarwood never got closer than 15 points the rest of the way, which led to the 17-point victory for the Hornets to keep their season alive.

Chelsea was led by 19 points from Schwallie in the win. The Hornets will host Homewood in the area tournament championship on Friday at 6 p.m. to determine if they host or travel for their sub-regional game.