Pelham pulls away from Briarwood to earn sub-regional spot

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

By LAUREN SEXTON | Sports Reporter

HELENA – The Pelham Panthers have advanced to the sub-regional round of the playoffs after overcoming a 32-25 first-half deficit against the Briarwood Lions on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Taking on county foe Briarwood in the opening round of the area tournament, the Panthers created a significant lead early in the third quarter en route to a 59-49 victory.

With the win, Pelham will advance to the area championship game against Helena and automatically secures them a spot in the first round of the postseason as well.

Using strong defense to fuel offense after returning to the second half, paid off for the Panthers later on.

A face-paced first quarter gave the Lions a 20-10 lead over the Panthers before going into the second quarter. Briarwood limited most of Pelham’s action within the paint, leaving the Panthers to post mainly outside the arc.

Briarwood’s Drew Mears led the Lions in the first quarter after posting five points from two field goals. Luke Schultz followed Mears with four points from the paint. 

William Lloyd, Miles Gilbert and Zach Lamey each knocked down a basket outside the arc, while Garrett Witherington tacked on two points.

Pelham’s Jackson Germek and Thompson Gennari both posted three points each outside the arc.  Joe Wimberly added two points from the paint and one from the free-throw line. Eli Lewis made the front end of a one-and-one.

That led to an even more dominant second quarter for Briarwood, which ultimately made a difference in the game. However, Pelham made sure they kept the score trailing Briarwood 32-25 after outscoring the Lions by three points before the halftime break.

Following a balanced second quarter that saw four players score from Briarwood. Grant Mears carried the Lions final offensive run of the half with three free throws and a single field goal.

Gilberts picked another three-point field goal, while Drew Mears and Caleb Miller totaled a combined four points.

Corey Perkins put up a fight for Pelham in the fleeting second of the half with a final layup. Perkin posted a total of six points in the second quarter after knocking down a basket inside the paint, outside the arc and one from the free-throw line.

Wimberly went two-for-two as Dynerion Long added four points from two baskets. Lewis posted three points.

Pelham was clearly determined to bounce back with its best second half offensively after returning from the break. Within the first 30 seconds of the third quarter, the Panthers executed a swift comeback and never looked back.

Wimberly tied the score for the Panthers 32-32 with Hollis picking up the lead soon after. Briarwood trailed behind 46-39 before an intense conclusion of the Wednesday night matchup.

Hollis posted eight points from four field goals. Gennari and Perkin each added a basket outside the arc, while Gennari made the front end of a one-and-one.

Wimberly tacked on four points and Long added two.

Limited to seven points in the third quarter by Pelham, Drew Mears picked up five points from two field goals, while Matthias Lieb went two-for-two from the free-throw line.

With a hot clock counting down the seconds to the final buzzer, the fourth period came with countless attempts by the Lions to post points outside the arc. A risk that would cost them a potential comeback.

Long led the final offensive run for Pelham with five points, while Hollis followed with three points. Lewis, Wimberly and Perkins totaled a combined five points.

Gilbert went two-for-two from the free-throw line, while Lloyd made the front end of a one-and-one. Lamey posted five points and Lieb tacked on two.

As for the Panthers, they closed out the night with a 10-point victory over Briarwood.

The Lions’ season came to an end after falling to Pelham 59-49.

Wimberly, Hollis and Long led the Panthers with 11 points added from each player in the Pelham’s win, while Perkins finished just behind with 10.

Drew Mears was Briarwood’s leading scorer with 12 points posted. Lamey and Gilbert followed Mears with eight points each.