Southside heading to Birmingham after blowout win over Cottage HillPublished 10:37pm Saturday, February 23, 2013
By David Mundeestranger
The Dothan Eagle
DOTHAN — The road itinerary for the Southside Panthers has another destination on it — the city of Birmingham.
The Panthers, who had one of the longer trips to the South Regional in Dothan, kept their season going Saturday. Behind the 28 points of regional tournament MVP Sammarkus Jones, Southside earned a trip to the state tournament in Birmingham with a resounding 65-43 win over Cottage Hill in the Class 3A regional finals at the Dothan Civic Center.
“At the beginning of the year, we talked about the road to Birmingham and now it has come to the forefront,” Southside head coach Cedric Brown said. “We won the area tournament on the road. We hosted a sub-regional game and won. We went a great distance here to Dothan — we enjoyed ourselves in Dothan, but it was a long ride.
“We have been riding all year and we just want to keep the buses rolling. Next week, it’s the road to Birmingham.”
It will be Southside’s first trip to the state tournament since 2005. The Panthers (23-9) will face Holly Pond (25-5) Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham. Holly Pond won the Northeast Regional Saturday with a 107-95 win over Pisgah.
“It feels good,” Southside senior forward Jeffery Mack said. “We knew at the beginning of the season, it was a reasonable goal because we have the team to do it. Then we got all guys to put their minds together and here we are.”
Cottage Hill, which upset eighth-ranked Daleville on Thursday night, finished the season with a 19-12 record.
After a close start in the game’s first few minutes, Cottage Hill grabbed a 5-2 lead with 3:15 left in the opening quarter after a 3-pointer from Jonathan Johnson and two Justin Kinder free throws.
But Southside turned the heat up defensively and Jones began his scoring assault.
The Panthers scored nine straight over two minutes to go up 11-5. Jones finished the flurry with two free throws and a 3-pointer.
A free throw by Cottage Hill’s Josh Lemley made it 11-6 at the quarter break.
The Panthers and Jones continued their onslaught in the second quarter, building an 18-point lead late in the period before settling for a 29-13 halftime lead.
Southside’s defense held the Warriors to 2-of-18 shooting in the first half and forced 13 turnovers.
The Warriors cut the margin to 12 early in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Panthers and Jones let it get. Hitting 57.1 percent of their second-half shots (12-of-21), including 5-of-8 from Jones, they opened up a 48-25 lead after three quarters and were well on their way to the win.
For the game, Southside shot 47.8 percent (22-of-46) compared to Cottage Hill’s 25.0 percent (11-of-44). Jones sparked the shooting, hitting 8-of-18 shots, including 5-of-10 on 3-pointers. He also hit 7-of-8 at the foul line.
Mack scored 12 points and Jevon Hall had 10 for Southside.
Johnson led Cottage Hill with 17 points.
Southside’s Mack along with Cottage Hill’s Kinder and Matthew Scelsi, Daleville’s Robert McGirt and Barbour County’s Travon Patterson each earned all-tournament team honors.