Southside's Sammarkus Jones, center, attacks the basket against a pair of Holly Pond defenders during Wednesday's Class 3A semifinal in Birmingham. -- Robert Hudson
Southside's Sammarkus Jones, center, attacks the basket against a pair of Holly Pond defenders during Wednesday's Class 3A semifinal in Birmingham. -- Robert Hudson

Southside tops Holly Pond, advances to Class 3A title game

Published 7:13pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013

BIRMINGHAM — After trailing most of the first half, the Southside Panthers came out in the third quarter on a run that sent them straight to Saturday’s Class 3A state title game, as they defeated the Holly Pond Broncos 60-44 on Wednesday in a Class 3A semifinal at the BJCC Arena.

Cedric Brown, head boys basketball coach of Southside (24-9), said the Panthers played with toughness in the second half to advance to a level that’s “been a long time coming.”

“I drew a diagram on the board and it was like grass at the bottom, and I put at the bottom, I put ‘soft.’ At the top I put ‘toughness’ and I drew an arrow from the bottom to the top, and I said ‘guys, unless we elevate and take it to toughness, then there won’t be a Saturday,” Brown said. “They did what they’ve been doing all year. They bought in and they executed the X’s and O’s to a tee.”

Southside entered the third trailing 27-23 to the Broncos (25-6).

Holly Pond’s Colby Adams opened the third with a 3-pointer, but Southside’s Sammarkus Jones hit a three of his own to make it 30-26.

That three sparked a run, as Southside’s Octavious Gulley scored under the basket and Jones hit another three to give the Panthers a 31-30 lead, their first since early in the opening quarter.

Southside kept it going, as Robert Sullivan scored on a fast-break layup and Jevon Hall hit a shot from behind the arch to make it 36-30 with 4:50 remaining.

Holly Pond’s Gunter Morris stopped the run with a shot in the paint, but Gulley scored under the basket again, Jeffery Mack tipped a shot in off the rebound and Hall added another three to extend the Panthers’ lead to double digits at 43-33 with 2:58 left in the third.

Gulley hit a free throw before Holly Pond’s Carter Hays finished off a three-point play, but Jhalandius Sullivan scored on a layup for the Panthers and Hall scored on a fast-break lay in as time expired to send Southside into the final quarter leading 48-36.

Southside picked up right where it left off in the third, opening the fourth on a 6-0 run that included two baskets by Mack and another by Jones that made it 50-36 and effectively put the game out of the Broncos’ reach.

Mack said the Panthers turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, as the Broncos shot 26 percent in the half compared to 41 percent in the first half.

“We were able to make them put the ball on the floor,” Mack said. “We kept the ball out of the post, and we wanted them to take shots. They were making those shots in the first half, but second half they continued to shoot and they shot themselves out.”

Mack led Southside with 15 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots.

Hall had 13 points, while Jones had 11 points, and Sullivan had 10 points and nine boards.

Gulley added 9 points, 13 rebounds and four steals for Southside.

Morris was the only Bronco to score in double figures, as he had 14 points.

Southside will play Madison Academy (23-12) in the Class 3A title game on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the BJCC Arena.


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