Panthers win county tourney
by Rip Donovan
Special to The Star
Jan 22, 2014 | 460 views |  0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Once again, Spring Garden’s girls are the champions of the annual Cherokee County tournament. The Panthers, seeded No. 2, defeated No. 3 Cedar Bluff 64-26 in the semifinals Friday. In Saturday’s championship game, Spring Garden beat No. 1 Sand Rock 49-42. The Wildcats had bested the Panthers twice in two earlier games.

Against Cedar Bluff, Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin worried that his team might be sluggish in a 4 p.m. start but the Panthers led 30-6 after one quarter, setting the tone for the rest of the tournament.

“It was very positive the way they came out ready to play,” Austin said.

Junior Darian Gaines had 24 points, including five 3-point baskets, in three quarters of playing time. Haley Motes scored 15 points. Tykeah Rogers had 10 points, Auburn Kirk nine points and Emory Reedy six points.

In the win over Sand Rock, the Panthers weren’t sluggish but trailed 10-2 after the first quarter. “We just played too fast for the easy stuff that was there for us,” Austin said of Spring Garden’s 10 turnovers in the first quarter, several unforced.

The second quarter started with a 3-point basket from the top of the circle by Rogers. By halftime, the Panthers trailed just 23-21. Spring Garden led 32-28 after three quarters but Sand Rock wasn’t done. The Wildcats regained the lead in the fourth quarter. Austin said that Motes netted a 3-pointer with less than three minutes to play to take Spring Garden from down two to up one, a lead the Panthers held the remainder of the game. Gaines was 5-fo-5 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

Motes finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Austin praised her defense.

“She held their best scorer, Madison Smith, to only one field goal,” Austin said. “She played some excellent defense, just had great position.”

Rogers scored 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Gaines ended with 13 points and converted all seven of her free throw attempts for the night. Madison Sides scored five points and Reedy had two points.

“It was a very, very important win. Our girls really wanted to win that county championship,” Austin said.

At Woodland Monday, Class 2A’s No. 1 ranked Woodland Bobcats improved to 22-1 at Spring Garden’s expense. The final was 70-52. Motes scored 21 points and Rogers scored 12. Reedy had nine points, Sides seven and Kirk three. Spring Garden fell to 17-4 with the loss.

“The way they played us, it’s got us battle tested for the rest of the year. … They’re the best team that we’ve played against in the last three or four years,” Austin said.
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Panthers win county tourney by Rip Donovan
Special to The Star

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