By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
For the fifth-consecutive year, the Madison Southern Lady Eagles advanced to the finals of the 44th District Tournament with a 63-43 win over Model Thursday.
The Lady Eagles went wire-to-wire for the victory.
Southern scored the final 10 points of the first quarter to take a 13-4 lead, and behind 15 points by Briana Lanham and nine points by Samantha Parms, took a 33-14 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Lady Eagles’ defense slowed Model star Darrian Botts in the first half and when point guard Haley Hunt went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter, Model struggled to get into its offense.
But Botts came out fighting in the second half and the Lady Patriots’ pressure defense began to force Southern into turnovers and Model began to chip away at the Southern lead.
Botts scored seven of the first 11 points of the third quarter to pull Model to within 37-21 mid-way through the quarter.
After back-to-back baskets by Lanham, Botts scored eight of the next 12 points to cut the Southern lead to 43-32. A bucket by Kasi Schnied pulled the Lady Eagles to within nine at 43-34 at the end of the third quarter.
Parms quickly righted the Lady Eagles’ ship with a three pointer to open the fourth quarter and Southern steadily scored 11 of the next 15 points to build their lead back to 20 at 58-38 mid-way through the fourth quarter and the Lady Patriots could get no closer.
“It seemed like when they put pressure on us in the third quarter even our starters were making wrong decisions, but all in all they kept their heads and regrouped,” Southern coach Summer Simmons said. “The girls are resilient, but I wish we wouldn’t have the lulls like we do, it hurts our confidence.”
Lanham lead all scorers with 29 points and also pulled down nine rebounds. Parms finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Sarah Smith, Adriannah Willis and Callie Cook had five points each, Kelley Freeman had three points, Hayden Westfall had two points and eight rebounds and Ashyln Clark had one point and four rebounds.
For Model, Botts finished with 25 points and pulled down six rebounds. Kasi Schneid had 10 points and eight rebounds, Hunt had three points before leaving with the injury, Chloe Dyer had two points and two rebounds, Abby Vicars had two points and six rebounds and Emily Jackson had one point and four rebounds.
Model coach Ronald Preece said he was proud of the way his team fought through adversity in the game and all season.
“I’m proud of them, they didn’t quit and they played hard,” Preece said. “Darrian had a good second half, our press looked pretty good for a while, but we got tired there at the end, but they didn’t quit.”
With Hunt out of the game, and with other injuries during the season, Preece has had to play a lot of young players, but the playing time, Preece said, will reap dividends down the road.
“I thought our young kids, Chloe Dyer and Charity Mack played well while they were out there. Next year we have everybody back and this experience will be invaluable. They have given it their all and played hard all season and I couldn’t be prouder,” Preece said.
Madison Southern has one night to enjoy the win because a matchup with Madison Southern looms today in the championship game beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Both teams advance to next week’s 11th Region Tournament which begins Monday Feb. 25 in McBrayer Arena.