Southside falls to Columbia 51-42


Southside’s Sydney D’Eath gets fouled by Columbia’s Tianna Love during Thursday night’s game. (Photo by Dave Hyatt | Gadsden Times)


SOUTHSIDE — Southside’s season ended Thursday night with a 51-42 loss to Columbia in the girls Class 5A Northeast Sub-Regional round of the state high school basketball playoffs.

After holding a 21-16 halftime lead, Southside (20-7) struggled in the third quarter on offense, allowing Columbia (17-18) to rally and take a 32-27 lead into the fourth. Down the stretch, the Eagles, who had shot just 48 percent on the season from the free-throw line coming into the game, made 13 of 14 from the charity stripe to seal the victory.

“It (Columbia’s free-throw percentage) was much higher than normal,” Southside coach Kim Nails said. “In a close game, free throws can win a lot of ballgames for you.”

The third quarter also saw the Panthers struggle with turnovers and missed shots.

“In the third quarter, I felt like we were coming out in a good position,” Nails said. “They capitalized on a few turnovers and it snowballed a time or two before we rebounded. Against a good team like that, you have to stop their runs quickly when they make one.”

The game was the final one for a pair of Southside seniors, Sydney D’Eath and Savannah Thomas.

“For me, tonight, the sad part was not so much that we lost but that I lost those two great leaders,” Nails said.

D’Eath scored five points and Thomas had four points.

The Panthers took control of the game during a strong second quarter when they outscored the Eagles 13-3 and allowed just one field goal. They were unable to maintain that level of play, though.

After Morgan Harris hit a jumper to push the Southside lead to 23-16 to open the third quarter, Columbia took over. The Eagles’ pressure defense forced turnovers and bad shots, which resulted in a number of easy baskets.

A bucket by Jasmynn Batts with 28 seconds remaining in the quarter gave Columbia a 32-27 lead to close the period on a 16-4 run.

For most of the final quarter, the Panthers managed to stay within striking distance. A basket by D’Eath with 5:36 left cut the deficit to 34-32, but the Eagles scored six of the next eight points to extend the lead again to six.

The lead shrunk to 42-39 on a pair of free throws by Haley Troup with 1:56 remaining. That was as close as Southside got. With Columbia up 47-42, Troup had a 3-pointer go in-and-out with 18 seconds left, and Batts hit a pair of free throws on the other end to secure the win and a spot in the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State University next week.

The game opened with Southside struggling on the offensive end. The Panthers did not hit a field goal until Beth Allen Smith drained a 3-pointer with 1:56 left in the quarter to cut the Columbia lead to 10-6. The Eagles led 13-8 after the first quarter. The Panthers had seven turnovers in the period.

Things quickly turned in the second quarter. Southside locked down Columbia defensively, while also getting its offense on track. Molly Tucker hit a jumper with 3:30 left until the break to lift the Panthers to their first lead, 16-14. Troup followed that with a trey to extend the edge to 19-14. Tia Stevenson’s layup with 45 seconds left cut it to 19-16, the first field goal of the quarter for the Eagles. Thomas closed the first half with a jumper at the buzzer to give Southside a five-point cushion.

Troup’s 14 points led the Panthers. Harris and Karri McKissack had six points each. Batts had 20 points to lead all players. Stevenson and Destiny Reynolds totaled 10 points apiece.

Columbia will face Ramsay in the Northeast Regional on Tuesday.