“We talked about it being our last home game. We didn’t really want it to be our last game,” Motes said. “We knew we could do it if we took care of business.”
Agreed Kirk: “We knew what we had to do.”
Spring Garden threw a suffocating defense on visiting Jefferson Christian and emerged with a 77-17 win in a Class 1A sub-regional game.
The Panthers (25-4) advanced to the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State. They play Tuesday at 3 p.m. against the winner of tonight’s game between Faith Christian and Skyline.
With Motes at the front the full-court zone press and Kirk recording steal after steal, Jefferson Christian turned the ball over without a shot on its first eight possessions. The Eagles’ first shot came four minutes into the game.
Junior Darian Gaines opened the scoring for the Panthers with a 3-point basket in the first ten seconds. Five other Spring Garden players — Kirk, Madison Sides, Alex Robertson, Savannah Dempsey and Kaitlyn Rogers — had at least one trey. In all, 11 of 13 Panthers scored.
Spring Garden led 17-0 when Jefferson Christian coach David Lowery called a timeout with 4:30 left in the first quarter. Ninety seconds later, with the Panthers up 26-0, Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin substituted five reserves. Emory Reedy was 4-for-4 at the free throw line for a 30-0 advantage before the Eagles scored a basket with 36 seconds to go in the first, making it 30-2 when the quarter ended.
Gaines needed 12 seconds for a 3-pointer to start the second quarter. This time, reserves played the final five and a half minutes of the period. The Panthers led 49-8 at intermission.
“We went hard with our first five and then we came in with the second five, and they had good intensity. We came back the second quarter with the first five and the intensity was great. Then we started loosening it up a little bit,” Austin said.
Reserves played all but two minutes of the second half.
Gaines and Robertson scored 12 points apiece. All of Gaines’ scoring came before halftime. Robertson had a pair of treys in the second quarter and two more in the fourth. Tykeah Rogers had 11 points, all in the first half. Kirk ended with nine points and an equal number of steals. Dempsey finished with nine points on three treys.
Reserve Payton McGinnis, a seventh-grader, had a team-best 11 rebounds.