Briarwood rallies to beat Pelham to secure spot in sub-regionals, complete perfect area record

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PELHAM – For the first time in 20 years, the Briarwood Christian Lions will host an area tournament, and they did so in comeback fashion after rallying for a 37-36 win over the Pelham Panthers on Monday, Jan. 29 at Pelham High School.

After trailing by seven points with 5:49 to go, the Lions closed the game on a 9-1 run thanks to a standout effort on both ends of the court.

The win put the finishing touches on a perfect 4-0 run through area play and secured Briarwood’s place in sub-regionals as one of the top two teams in Class 6A, Area 8.

The teams were evenly matched from the start in a tightly fought first quarter with multiple lead changes. After the Lions took a 9-8 lead with less than two minutes to go, Tee King made a layup with 43 seconds left to give Pelham the 10-9 lead at the end of the quarter.

Briarwood grabbed a hold of the momentum to start the second quarter. The visitors went on a 7-0 run in the first two minutes to take the lead and go up by five.

A Karma Wynn basket midway through the quarter stemmed the bleeding for the Panthers and resumed the close battle.

King’s field goal with 1:16 left cut the deficit to two, which was the difference between the teams at halftime as the Lions led 21-19 at the break.

Pelham extended its lead to four off a Taylor Hollingsworth three-pointer two minutes into the quarter, but a minute later, Emma Kerley was fouled off a made three-pointer and tied the game at the free throw line.

However, the Panthers closed the quarter with a strong stretch from the free throw line to take a 31-25 lead into the fourth.

Despite a Kerley three-pointer early in the quarter, Pelham built out a seven-point lead and put the pressure on Briarwood, especially with Mary Beth Dicen and Ann Tatum Baker both on four fouls.

With 5:03 left, though, Dicen hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to four, and that kicked off the Lions response.

After Wynn made a free throw to take the lead back to five, Kerley drew Briarwood within three a minute later after making a basket while being fouled.

Shortly after, Dicen put the Lions down just one with 3:06 left as Briarwood defense continued to hold Pelham scoreless.

That opened the door for Dicen to score with 1:36, giving the Lions the 37-36 lead and igniting the visiting fans.

The Lions defense continued to bring the fight to Pelham, and a pair of jump balls gave Briarwood the ball with three seconds left.

While the Lions were forced out of bounds with 1.8 seconds left, the Panthers couldn’t convert on the ensuing inbounds pass, and the Briarwood players ran onto the court to celebrate their regular season area championship.

Before the Lions host the area tournament, they will host Gadsden City on Tuesday, Jan. 30 in their last regular season game.

Pelham will finish out the regular season on the road against Calera on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. before facing Helena in the area tournament semifinals at Briarwood for a spot in sub-regionals.