Briarwood holds off Pelham for win in area play finale

Published 8:04 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PELHAM – The Briarwood Christian Lions finished area play on a high note by defeating the Pelham Panthers 47-43 on Monday, Jan. 29 at Pelham High School.

Briarwood opened the game with a balanced attack featuring Garrett Witherington in the post and deep baskets from Caleb Keller and Drew Mears in the first quarter.

After the Lions scored the first five points of the game, Joe Wimberly took over the Pelham offense with three layups and seven points to help the Panthers tie up the game at 8-8.

After the teams fought hard for the final two minutes of the quarter, they entered the second quarter tied at 10 points apiece.

From there, Pelham grabbed hold of the lead with a 10-3 run in the first five minutes of the second quarter, spreading the ball and the scoring around to take a seven-point lead.

Briarwood would threaten to take the lead from there with a Stubbs deep shot and a Mears three-point play to cut the deficit to one point, but Eli Lewis hit a three-pointer to give Pelham the 23-19 lead at halftime.

The Lions tied the game up twice in the first half of the third quarter and took a four-point lead off a Thomas Loudon three-pointer with 3:33 left in the quarter.

That set the stage for five lead changes in the final three minutes of the third, with Mears’ reverse layup with 30 seconds left sealing the 37-36 lead at the end of the quarter for Briarwood.

The teams were scoreless for the first minute-and-a-half of the fourth before Lewis gave Pelham the lead again.

The Lions would have to wait until the 5:22 mark to score their first points of the quarter and regain the lead off a pair of Stubbs free throws.

Briarwood’s defense continued to hold strong and didn’t allow Pelham to score until 2:01 remained in the game, taking a six-point lead off two more free throws and a Mears three-pointer.

The Panthers threatened for the lead in the next minute after Long scored a pair of baskets to make it a one-possession game.

However, the Briarwood defense kept Pelham quiet from there, and the Lions hit a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left to restore their five-point lead.

While the Panthers made it a four-point game on the free throw line with six seconds left, that proved to be the final point of the game as Briarwood earned the four-point win.

Mears led Briarwood with 15 points and Schultz joined him in double-figures with 10 points. Stubbs scored seven points and Keller had six points.

For Pelham, Long led the way on his senior night with 12 points. Wimberly, Daniel and Lewis all scored seven points apiece.

While the Lions and Panthers will face each other in the area tournament semifinals at Helena High School, both teams will wrap up the regular season with non-area games.

Briarwood will face Gadsden City on Tuesday, Jan. 30 and Indian Springs on Thursday, Feb. 1 with its final two home games of the regular season. Pelham will travel to Calera on Tuesday, Jan. 30 for its regular season finale.