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Spring Garden girls win Beach Blowout basketball tournament

Basketball teaser

Spring Garden defeated local favorite Navarre (Florida) 66-49 on Thursday to capture the girls championship of the annual Sandestin Hilton Beach Blowout basketball tournament in Freeport, Fla. It was the fourth win in four days of tournament action for the Panthers. Spring Garden led 30-25 at halftime then sealed the win with a 28-14 advantage in the third quarter.   

In the championship contest, senior Neely Welsh recorded her second double-double in as many games and was named tournament MVP. She led the Panthers in scoring in each of their four tournament games.  

Against Navarre, Welsh finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Welsh had 26 points and 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s 80-46 semifinal-round win over New Site, a state champion in Mississippi last season. She scored 16 points in Tuesday’s 57-35 win over Franklin (Tennessee) and had 26 points Monday when the Panthers mashed Montgomery Academy 79-41.  

Senior Sarah Kate McKay and freshman Ace Austin joined Welsh on the all-tournament team. Austin had 12 points, 12 boards and eight assists against Navarre. Earlier, Austin scored 23 points, including 13 of 14 free throws, and handed out six assists against New Site, had 13 points and nine assists against Franklin and opened with 21 points and nine assists in the Panthers’ initial win over Montgomery Academy. 

McKay had 11 points in the championship game, going 4 of 5 from the floor and 2 of 2 at the free throw line. McKay was 3 of 4 from the floor and had eight points and five rebounds against New Site. She had nine points and nine boards while going 4 of 6 from the floor in the win over Franklin. McKay started the tournament with seven points — 4 of 4 at the foul line and 1 of 1 on 3-point shots — and six rebounds against Montgomery Academy.

Sports Correspondent Rip Donovan: 256-236-1551 or 256-235-3557.