“That win puts a lot of things in our favor to host the area tournament now if we can win out,” Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin said. “We feel like that was a key game. Of course, we’ve still got Cedar Bluff at Cedar Bluff which will be the same – a key game.”
The Collinsville game was nip-and-tuck until midway through the fourth quarter. Spring Garden led 10-8 after one quarter, 19-16 at the half and 33-30 after three quarters.
“In the last three minutes of the game, we had some really good defensive stops and we scored on a lot off our key defensive stops. That was really the difference in the game,” Austin said.
Six players played and all six scored. Darian Gaines finished with 11 points. Tykeah Rogers scored 10 points, Emory Reedy nine, Auburn Kirk six, Haley Motes four and Madison Sides three.
Prior to their win over Collinsville, the Panthers spent three days playing at Tallapoosa, Ga., in the Hilburn-Patterson Haralson county Invitational tournament and emerged with three wins and the tournament championship.
Spring Garden opened against Heard County (Ga.) on December 27 and won 59-32. The Panthers led 30-16 at the half and iced the win with a 17-5 margin in the third quarter. Six players contributed points in the third quarter rush. For the game, Reedy and Motes each tallied 17 points. Gaines had nine, Sides eight and Rogers six. Alex Robertson, A.J. Broome and Savannah Dempsey each had two points and Kirk scored one point.
In the semifinal round on December 28, the Panther played what Austin called a “flawless” first half and handily defeated South Paulding (Ga.) 53-26. Spring Garden’s pressure was too much for the Spartans to handle and the Panthers led 15-2 after one quarter. By halftime, it was 32-10.
“That’s probably the most perfect first half of basketball our girls have played since probably ’08. Defense, offense, everything on both ends of the floor was clicking,” Austin said.
Motes had a monster game with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Rogers also contributed a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards. Gaines scored 12 points. Kirk had seven points, Reedy four and Sides two.
In the title game on December 30 was an all-Alabama affair and Spring Garden downed Cleburne County 53-22. The Panthers led 18-2 after one quarter as Rogers, Gaines and Motes each scored six points. By intermission, Spring Garden led 32-9. Rogers scored 17 points against the Tigers. Gaines and Motes also reach double figures with 13 and 10 points respectively. Sides had five points. Reedy scored four points. Payton McGinnis and Tiyonna Rogers contributed two points apiece.
The Panthers got two of the five places on the all-tournament team. Motes was chosen as most valuable player and Rogers was recognized as all-tournament.
Spring Garden plays at Ranburne Thursday. On January 14, defending Class 2A state champion Woodland comes to Spring Garden. The Bobcats have another powerhouse this year having lost only to defending Class 3A champion Lauderdale County in the championship game of the Northwest Alabama Invitational tournament at Rogersville on Lauderdale County’s home court.