Pelham takes Turkey Classic with three straight wins

Published 10:03 am Monday, November 27, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PELHAM – The Pelham Panthers successfully defended their home court by taking the Pelham Turkey Classic with a trio of wins over Carver-Montgomery, Altamont and Chilton County from Nov. 20-22.

The Panthers secured the championship with a tight 57-54 win over the Carver-Montgomery Wolverines in the finals on Wednesday, Nov. 22 and are now 7-1 on the season.

Eli Lewis led the way early with six points in the first quarter, while he and his Panthers teammates made six of their seven free throws in the opening period.

However, it was the Wolverines that ended the quarter with the 16-15 lead thanks to a trio of three-pointers.

Pelham responded by taking the lead in the second quarter as Joe Wimberly scored seven of the Panthers’ 11 points in the quarter, which put them up 26-18 at halftime.

Carver-Montgomery cut the lead to just five after the third quarter despite 10 points in the period by Dynarion Long and three-pointers from Lewis and Sam Tolbert.

Now up just 43-38, Pelham needed to hold off Carver-Montgomery to take care of business in the fourth quarter and walk away with the trophy.

While the Wolverines outscored the Panthers again in the quarter, they could only come within three as Lewis and Tolbert each made a deep shot again to boost Pelham’s advantage, while Jayden Robinson added four points and Wimberly had a pair of late free throws to cap off the 57-54 win.

In the title game win, Wimberly led with 15 points, Lewis had 14, Long had 12 and Tolbert also got into double figures with 10.

Pelham took on the Altamont Knights in the second round and walked away with a 70-46 win on Tuesday, Nov. 21.

The teams were closely matched in the first quarter as the Panthers and Knights felt each other out to begin the game.

Eli Lewis’ five points in the first helped Pelham get going early and head into the second quarter with a slim 8-6 lead.

After a nervy start, the Panthers offense exploded in the second quarter and never looked back.

Joe Wimberly scored 10 in the quarter to power Pelham’s offense to 24 points in the second. Jordan Henscel also had six points in the period as the Panthers built their lead to double-digits before halftime, leading 32-16 at the break.

Pelham didn’t miss a beat in the third quarter, scoring 23 more points to extend its advantage.

Kyle O’Neil drained a pair of three-pointers and Dynarion Long had his best quarter of the game with seven points to put Pelham up 55-30 at the end of three.

That gave the Panthers enough of a lead to see out the win despite Altamont scoring a point more than Pelham in the fourth quarter. The Panthers went 9-for-11 at the free throw line down the stretch to secure the 70-46 victory.

Wimberly scored 14 points in the win, while Long had 12 and Lewis had 10.

Before that, the Panthers came out on top of the Chilton County Tigers 73-40 in the first round on Monday, Nov. 20.

The Panthers came out strong on both sides of the ball in the first quarter. Four players hit 3-pointers while eight total players got on the board in the first quarter, and on the other side of the ball, the defense brought the pressure.

The Panthers gave up only 10 points in the frame to carry a 26-10 lead into the second quarter.

There was no let down from Pelham in the next quarter. The Panthers were able to get 18 more points while holding the Tigers to 11 to go into the half up 44-21.

The 3rd quarter was Pelham’s best of the game as the Panthers offense was spread out again with five different players scoring a total of 16 points. Dynarian Long was the catalyst of the quarter, scoring eight of his game-high 16 in the 3rd period alone.

The Panthers defense did its job as well, giving up only seven points in the third, and that extended their lead to 60-28 and put them in firm control of the game going into the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Pelham continued playing with the same mindset that they had all game. Pelham put up 13 points in the quarter and had to answer a short run from Chilton County, who scored 12 in the final period, but it was not enough to overcome the deficit and the Panthers walked away with the 73-40 win to advance to the second round of the Turkey Classic Tipoff and start their path to the championship.

Long led the way with 16 points, Jordan Henschel finished with 14 points and Sam Tolbert ended the game with nine points.