Pelham now 16-2 after winning Brookwood tournament

Published 4:37 pm Monday, January 3, 2022

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

BROOKWOOD –  Since dropping their second game of the season to Oak Mountain on Dec. 7, the Pelham Panthers have been on a mission, and it showed in their final tournament of 2021.

Competing in the Brookwood tournament Dec. 28-30, the Panthers put together three consecutive wins against Holt, Sylacauga and host Brookwood to claim the tournament championship and improve to 16-2 on the season.

It also helped Pelham continue a recent win streak since that loss to the Eagles, now winning eight consecutive games.

The first two games of the tournament didn’t come without their share of challenges at times, but Michael Jones didn’t let the moment become too big, as the senior guard finished with 30 or more in wins against Holt and Sylacauga.

It started with an overtime victory against Holt, as the Panthers kicked off the tournament with a 63-62 victory.

Pelham fell into a 15-14 hole at the end of the opening quarter, but balance became key in keeping the game close going into the half.

Corey Perkins, Jones, Kamari Hollis, Will Lankford, Thompson Gennarri and Chase Blackburn all scored in the opening two quarters for the Panthers.

That, combined with strong defense in the second quarter, helped Pelham earn a 25-24 lead at the break.

Out of the break, the two teams matched each other with 15 points, but Jones was starting to heat up with seven points in the third quarter.

His confidence then shined in the fourth quarter. The guard scored all 15 of Pelham’s points in the period, making several clutch baskets, as the Panthers forced overtime after regulation ended in a 55-55 tie.

In the extra period, Pelham did just enough to notch the one-point win thanks to three more from Jones as well as a 3-pointer from Perkins and two points from Lankford.

Jones finished the game with 30 points, while Hollis added eight. Perkins and Lankford each finished with six points, while Blackburn totaled five in the first half.

In the semifinals against Sylacauga, Pelham found itself in another early hole after the Aggies started the game on a 12-0 run.

From there, however, the Panthers flipped a switch defensively.

They went on to outscore Sylacauga 14-7 the rest of the opening quarter, before then putting together a 20-8 second quarter for a 34-27 lead at the half.

The Panthers never did find the same offensive rhythm again in the second half, but the defense continued to shine the remainder of the way.

Pelham was outscored 14-12 in the third quarter, trimming the lead to 46-41 going into the final period.

The defense, however, held the Aggies to nine points in the fourth.

In a half of momentum swings, Lankford was a big energy boost, forcing three steals.

He finished the game with eight points and 12 rebounds to help spark a 62-50 victory, while Jones continued to pour in points with 37 on top of five assists and five steals. Roy Gonzalez added eight for the Panthers in the win.

Playing with that confidence going into the championship game of the tournament against the host team, Pelham picked up right where it left off on both ends of the floor.

The defense gave up single digits in three of the four quarters, while the offense was consistent throughout, scoring 13 or more in each period.

Pelham jumped out to a 14-9 lead at the end of one, eventually extending the lead to 30-18 at the break.

Following adjustments from Brookwood, the third quarter was the toughest for the Panthers, but they still outscored the host school by one point for a 43-30 lead going to the final quarter.

Pelham then put together its best frame of the game with a 17-6 fourth quarter to pull away for the 60-36 victory.

Jones, who was named the MVP of the tournament, finished with 19 points in the win. He finished the three days with a combined 86 points. Hollis also finished the tournament with an 11-point game, while Lankford was named to the All-Tournament team.