Chelsea headed to third straight Sweet 16

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – Like the rest of the season, Chelsea’s girls basketball team left no doubt despite the pressure of their season being on the line in a sub-regional matchup against Jasper on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The Hornets scored 21 points in the opening quarter of the matchup and soared to a 64-38 win in front of the home crowd to advance to the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row.

It continues not only a remarkable season, but a special three-year run for the Hornets, who have gone from a five-win team the year before head coach Jason Harlow showed up to now making it to the Sweet 16 in all three seasons of his tenure.

They also have 20 more wins this season than they did four years ago, picking up their 25th win of the season in the 26-point victory.

In the opening quarter, Chelsea put on display what has been the team’s bread and butter all season—defense leading to offense.

The Hornets allowed two made shots and seven total points in the first quarter, as the defense made life difficult for the visitors.

That helped lead to transition opportunities and more possessions for the offense, and Sophia Brown, Ellen Fleming and Mackenzie Titus came ready to capitalize.

Fleming scored 10 points in the frame, including two 3-pointers and two made jumpers, while Brown added six points and Titus scored five of her seven for the game.

Those three scored all of Chelsea’s points in the quarter, which was more than enough, as they totaled 21 points to put the Hornets in front by 14 going to the second quarter.

The win, however, didn’t come without some adversity.

In the second period, the Hornets only managed to score five points on two made shots from Fleming and Brown.

Jasper took advantage and scored 10 points in the quarter, which allowed the Vikings to gain some momentum going into the half down by single digits at 26-17 rather than the 14-point deficit they faced at the end of one.

But Chelsea has faced those lulls throughout the season, seemingly in the second quarter most times, so the Hornets were no stranger to the halftime adjustments that needed to be made.

They came out in the third quarter with a fire lit under them ready to roll on the offensive end of the floor and it again largely had to do with the defense playing well.

Chelsea limited Jasper to eight points in the quarter, while the Hornets were able to score 19 points thanks to six each from Brown and Mary Cartee as well as five more from Fleming.

That helped Chelsea take a commanding 45-25 lead into the final quarter.

With all the cushion they needed, Chelsea coasted through the fourth period to cement the win.

The Hornets were led by Fleming with 19 in the game, while Brown added 16. Beyond that, Madison Moore added nine, Ashley Moore posted eight and Titus scored seven.

Chelsea will host Oxford on Thursday night at 6:30 in the Sweet 16.