Pelham wins thriller against rival Helena in area championship game

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

PELHAM – There was a lot on the line when Pelham hosted rival Helena on Friday, Feb. 12 in the area championship game.

Though both teams had already earned a spot in the sub-regional round of the postseason, home-court advantage in that round was on the line while Pelham was looking to finish off a perfect 8-0 season against area opponents with Helena playing its best basketball of the season.

Without the pressure of a playoff spot on the line, the two teams came out loose, which led to a thrilling back-and-forth game that never saw either team lead by more than two points at the end of any quarter.

But it was the second quarter that made the difference in the final score.

After Helena jumped out to a 15-14 advantage in the opening period, Pelham came back to outscore the Huskies 12-9 in the second quarter to take a two-point lead into the half.

Try as they might, Helena was never able to overcome that slight deficit despite a battle to the wire, however, as the Panthers broke a late 51-51 tie to pick up a 53-51 win and take home the Class 6A, Area 6 Championship.

The win was made possible for the Panthers when a pass into the post from the Huskies was stolen by Niles Daniel, who jumped in front of the pass attempt with 30 seconds to play.

She then passed the ball off to Laci Gogan, who brought the ball up the court to try and set up the winning play.

After dribbling around just on the other side of the half court line, she turned to her left, crossing over the midcourt logo. At that point, her Savannah Scarbrough cut to the basket and Gogan threw a perfect pass down in the post on the roll, which led to Scarbrough putting in the game-winning layup with 20 seconds left.

It was a thrilling way to cap off an exciting rivalry matchup between the two teams.

After Helena grabbed the one-point advantage in the first quarter, it looked like the Huskies would be able to hang on to it at the half.

But Pelham was able to snatch the lead away going into the break up by two, 26-24, after outscoring the Huskies 12-9 in the quarter.

But Helena was in a rhythm and came out ready to compete with the regular-season area champion in the second half.

The Huskies regained the lead in the third quarter, and it looked like they were going to take it into the final period.

They were up 36-35 in the final seconds, but Pelham knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer, which gave the Panthers a 38-36 lead at the end of the frame and ended up making a difference in the two-point win.

Helena still battled in the final quarter and had the lead with the ball in the final minute before the steal from Daniels became costly.

It capped off a special run from Pelham, who finished 8-0 against area opponents, outscoring them by a combined 124 points.