First, the Panthers and Wildcats will play again only if Spring Garden, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, defeats No. 3 Cedar Bluff in the opening round on Friday at 4 p.m. Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin called his team’s third encounter with Cedar Bluff a “trap game” because the Panthers have defeated the Tigers handily in two previous games.
Second, top-seeded Sand Rock must survive its semifinal game Friday at 7 p.m. with either No. 4 Cherokee County or No. 5 Gaylesville. Cherokee County is a heavy favorite over Gaylesville.
“Right now, Sand Rock is clear cut the favorite in our county,” Austin said. “They’re stronger physically than us. We would like that matchup in the championship game. We’d like to get to that point where we could play them again. I think that could make us better for the rest of our year to get to that game.”
If the “ifs” fall correctly, Spring Garden and Sand Rock will play for the tournament title Saturday at 6 p.m.
On Thursday of last week, Spring Garden played at Ranburne and won 64-31. Austin noted the Panthers were the quicker team and used their quickness to take a 20-7 advantage after one quarter. It was 41-12 Spring Garden at halftime and 56-21 after three quarters.
“We played pretty good half-court defense,” said Austin. “They didn’t get many second shots.”
Junior Darian Gaines set the pace for Spring Garden on offense with 21 points. She had 12 points in the first quarter, including a pair of 3-point shots, and 19 at intermission. Madison Sides ended with 11 points. Emory Reedy scored 10 points. Tykeah Rogers added six points. Haley Motes and Savannah Dempsey netted five points apiece. Kaitlyn Rogers, Payton McGinnis and Tiyonna Rogers each scored two points.