Pelham falls in back-and-forth Sweet 16 matchup with Spanish Fort

Published 6:25 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

MONTGOMERY – In a game that seesawed back and forth, the Pelham Panthers saw their season come to an end in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, Feb. 17.

Taking on Spanish Fort for the second year in a row inside Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum, the Panthers were able to trim a late deficit behind a run that made the score 50-48.

From there, however, the Toros used an 11-3 run the rest of the way to grab a 61-50 victory that ended Pelham’s season.

The Panthers did get off to a strong start in the opening quarter, overcoming an early 8-4 deficit with a 10-2 run to end the first quarter.

Jamal Miles kick started the run with three consecutive points, before MJ Jones then made a layup and a 3-pointer to give Pelham a 12-10 lead.

Pelham then got one last look on an inbound play with one second left, and the Panthers capitalized with Jordan Holloway laying the ball in as the buzzer sounded to put the Panthers in front 14-10 at the end of the opening quarter.

The second quarter, however, was a different story.

Pelham struggled to find any offense for the first 3:30 of the period, which allowed Spanish Fort to regain the lead with a 7-0 run.

A Jones 3-pointer halted the run, but not for long.

The Toros went on to score the next seven points to complete a 14-3 run and take a 24-17 lead with 3:05 left in the half.

The Panthers were able to claw back to keep it from getting any worse than that with a 7-5 end to the quarter that brought them to within five at 29-24 going into the half.

Spanish Fort, however, had seized a lot of momentum in a pressure-packed game, which carried into the second half.

The Toros started the third quarter on an 11-5 run that extended the lead to its largest of the game at 40-29 with 3:40 to play in the period.

With 2:46 to play in the quarter, the Panthers then flipped a switch and willed themselves back into the game.

After not scoring for more than three minutes, they responded with an 11-0 explosion over the next 1:40 of play to tie the game at 40-40.

Pelham got points from Miles, Thompson Gennari, Roy Gonzalez and Kamari Hollis to erase the deficit and even the game with 1:08 left in the quarter.

But in a big final minute, the Toros overcame the momentum shift with a layup and then a 3-pointer at the buzzer to take a 45-40 lead into the final quarter.

That was a huge blow to the Panthers, but they were still able to bounce back with a 4-0 run to start the final quarter to get right back within a point following two free throws from Hollis and a layup from Jones.

Spanish Forth followed with a 5-0 run to extend the lead to six, but Pelham then got to within two yet again at 50-48 with 3:40 to play.

The next two minutes, however, saw chances come and go for both teams without points.

That became a crucial stretch, as Pelham couldn’t capitalize.

Then, with 1:56 to play, Antonio Winston drained a 3-pointer that became the final blow for Pelham.

The Panthers got to within three points at 50-30 following a layup from Holloway, but the Toros responded with an 8-1 run, draining four straight free throws and two layups to finish off the win.

Pelham outrebounded Spanish Fort and had one less turnover, but a 6-26 mark from beyond the arc and a 19-52 mark from the field became too much to overcome for the Panthers.

Pelham also finished 7-13 from the free throw line, while Spanish Fort earned 13 more attempts and shot 202-6.

Jones led Pelham with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds to bring to an end a four-year career as a starter in high school.

The Panthers also got eight points each from Lankford and Holloway, while the two combined for seven rebounds. Hollis was credited with seven points and four rebounds, while Miles finished with five points and as the team leader in rebounds with eight. Gonzalez posted six points for the Panthers in his final game.