Adding to history
Spring Garden earns 15th girls county championship
CENTRE – Winning Cherokee County Basketball Tournament championships have always meant a lot to the Spring Garden Lady Panthers, but earning a county title on Saturday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena had a little extra incentive.
“At practice this week, we talked about how we were tied with Cherokee County with 14 (girls county championships),” senior guard Madison Sides said. “Coach Rat (Ricky Austin) said ‘Not to add any pressure, but you’re built on pressure and I know you can handle this.’”
The Lady Panthers accepted the challenge Austin had for them, but a short-handed Sand Rock team didn’t go down without a fight.
Spring Garden was able to win a defensive struggle 45-36 to not only earn their 15th overall county title since 1981, but also their third straight and 10th since the year 2000.
“Knowing we left our mark on history in that way makes it even better,” Sides said. “Knowing we did it with the team and coaches we have just makes it greater.”
Sides led the Lady Panthers (15-4) with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Senior center Tykeah Rogers delivered 13 points and nine boards, but Sand Rock (15-5) made Spring Garden earn everything it got.
“We knew it was going to be a slobber knocker. That’s a good term for this game,” Austin said. “I think there were 30-something fouls called. It was a strangely-called game, and I think that was an advantage toward Sand Rock. They’re very aggressive. You’ve got to give them credit. Part of their game plan was to come in and get after us, which it always is, but the atmosphere and flow of the game was different. It was really a lot like a playoff game.
“There was a lot of tension every possession. We made pretty good adjustments to the way the game was called, and we were able to finish it, but it probably wasn’t a pretty game to watch from the stands on either side. We’re fortunate to come out on top.”
Rogers felt the Lady Panthers’ defense was the difference in the game.
“That’s what kept us ahead,” she said. “We thought if we came out and played defense, we would win. We were a little emotional and a little hyped in the first half, but we came out and played like we should in the second half.” As Austin said, it wasn’t pretty. Despite missing key seniors Madison
The Spring Garden Lady Panthers earned their third straight Cherokee County Tournament championship on Saturday with a 45-36 victory over Sand Rock. The Lady Panthers are coached by Ricky Austin, Dana Austin, Damon McDonald andDexter Vines. Photo...